NEW YORK -- If anyone had told you at the beginning of the week that the Yankees would not only beat the Detroit Tigers and their three Cy Young Award winners in two of those three games, but that the least accomplished of their three starters would outpitch Justin Verlander, you'd probably draw up commitment papers for that person.
But you would be wrong, because that is precisely what has happened over the last three nights at Yankee Stadium.
As a result, the Yankees have put themselves into position to win three of four games from the Tigers in Thursday afternoon's finale. Sometimes, you just can't predict baseball.
Offensive juggernaut: The Yankees seemed headed for another white-knuckle finish, leading 2-1 after 7 1/2 innings, until they scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth on a combination of timely hitting and a throwing error by the Tigers. After a single by Brett Gardner and a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira singled in a big insurance run. Carlos Beltran followed with a looping single to center, loading the bases, and that's when things got weird. Miguel Cabrera made a fine diving stop on Brian McCann's grounder in the hole, and got the force at second, but SS Andrew Romine's return throw sailed to the Yankees dugout, allowing Ellsbury to score. Teixeira also came around to score but was called out on a play at the plate; however, after a video review, it was determined he had snuck a hand in ahead of the tag, and the Yankees led 5-1.
Not again, Tex: Teixeira left the game after the play at the plate with an apparent hand injury. No immediate details on how serious it is.
Two Es in Stephen: Stephen Drew had acquitted himself well playing second base so far, even though it's a position he had not played since high school. But he had a horrendous eighth inning tonight, committing two errors on the same routine grounder off the bat of Victor Martinez. First, Drew bobbled the ball, allowing V-Mart to reach first. Then, he made a bad, and ill-advised throw that got past Mark Teixeira at first, allowing Miguel Cabrera (walk) to go to third and giving the Tigers runners at the corners with one out.
Adam Balls: Stuck with the task of cleaning up Drew's mess, Adam Warren, who came on in relief of Chris Capuano in the seventh, fell behind 3-0 to J.D. Martinez -- and came back to strike him out on a 96 mph fastball. He then fell behind 3-0 on Nick Castellanos, and after battling back to 3-2, got the last out on a fly ball to shallow right.
McBam: Brian McCann got a 1-2 changeup from Verlander and deposited it in the right-field seats with one out in the seventh to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. It was McCann's 13th home run of the season and second in two nights; he homered off David Price in the second inning of Tuesday's 4-3 loss.
Luda-Chris: On paper, this looked like a mismatch: Verlander, a former AL Cy Young and MVP, against Capuano, a sub-.500 career pitcher released by the last-place Boston Red Sox little more than a month ago. But Capuano wound up outpitching Verlander, throwing 6 2/3 strong innings, allowing just five hits and one unearned run, and striking out eight. In each of his three starts as a Yankee, Capuano has gone at least six innings, and his Yankees ERA is 2.84.
Chase Deadly: Verlander hung a changeup to Chase Headley with one out in the fifth and when it was next seen, it was landing in the second deck in right. Headley's second HR as a Yankee, and ninth overall, tied the game at 1.
Gift run: The Yankees gave the Tigers an early lead when Derek Jeter booted a leadoff grounder by Rajai Davis, who went to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a groundout and scored on Cabrera's sacrifice fly to right, caught by Martin Prado with his back to the wall.
Leapin' lizards: Jacoby Ellsbury's leaping catch in front of the Yankees bullpen took at least a double away from J.D. Martinez to end the sixth inning and preserve the 1-1 tie. The ball probably would not have left the park, but it certainly would have hit the padded top of the fence. Capuano gave a fist pump in celebration and left the mound with a wide grin on his face.
Justin's Eleven: Verlander mowed down the first 11 Yankees he faced tonight, until Jacoby Ellsbury busted it up with a single to center with two out in the fourth. Verlander followed that by walking Teixeira, but the Yankees came up empty when Beltran swung over a 2-2 curveball.
Neutralized: Yankees pitching has handled Cabrera, the defending two-time AL MVP, rather easily so far this series. Miggy went 0-for-1 with a sacrifice fly and two walks tonight, and is now 1-for-9 in the three games.
Been a long time: Eight years, to be exact, since the Yankees won a game in which they made four or more errors. (Capuano threw away a bunt in the fifth inning, with no damage done).