DETROIT -- It's games like this that make you reluctant to believe that the Yankees' latest surge is anything more than just another tease.
Tuesday, they got two home runs off Rick Porcello -- and little else, since both of them were solo shots from the same player.
And they got an OK -- not good, not bad and certainly not enough -- pitching performance out of Brandon McCarthy. And suddenly, this team looked and felt a lot like the one that has taken you on a roller-coaster ride all season and, like all roller coasters, let you down at the finish.
Tuesday's 5-2 loss dropped them one more crucial game behind the Tigers -- now three games -- for the second AL wild-card spot, and back to seven games behind the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles, winners over the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. Of course, things can turn around quickly in this game, but now, the Yankees are down to just 32 more games to go.
Branded: Perhaps he couldn't be expected to match his last outing, when he shut out the Astros on four hits, but Brandon McCarthy turned in his worst outing as a Yankee, allowing five runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He also walked two and hit a batter, leading to the Tigers' first run of the game. After McCarthy allowed a seventh-inning run, the Tigers' fifth of the game, on a double by Rajai Davis and a single by Torii Hunter, Joe Girardi replaced him with Esmil Rogers, who struck out Miguel Cabrera and retired Victor Martinez to end the inning.
J.D. Power and associates: The Tigers tacked on a pair of sixth-inning runs that essentially put the game away, stringing together three hits to start the inning -- a single by Victor Martinez, a double by J.D. Martinez and an RBI single by Nick Castellanos -- followed by a double-play grounder that scored J.D. from third, giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead. In his first three at-bats, J.D. Martinez had a double, two singles, an RBI and scored twice. No shock, maybe, that Rogers' first pitch to Martinez on his fourth at-bat was a fastball that sailed over his head.
Walkover: The Tigers got their first run of the game when McCarthy walked Davis with the bases loaded in the second. McCarthy, who pitched a strong first inning, getting Cabrera to bounce out and striking out Victor Martinez to end the inning with a runner on second, lost his command in the second, allowing a leadoff single to J.D. Martinez, walking Castellanos and hitting Eugenio Suarez on the shoulder before walking Davis. He then settled down to get Ian Kinsler to hit into a double play.
One more time: The Tigers added to their lead in the third when Miguel Cabrera doubled into the left-center gap and J.D. Martinez singled him home to make it a 2-0 game.
Ells bombs: Jacoby Ellsbury's 12th home run of the season, and second in two games, cut the lead in half, to 2-1, when he jumped on a first-pitch changeup from Porcello and clubbed it into the right-field seats with two out in the fifth. Three innings later, he led off the eighth with another solo shot into the runway beyond the right-field fence to make it a 5-2 ballgame. Ellsbury's 60 RBIs lead the team, five ahead of Brian McCann.
Kalamazoo Kid: Derek Jeter, who grew up about 2 1/2 hours from here in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was treated like a hometown boy by the Comerica crowd, getting a huge ovation before his first at-bat. He rewarded the fans with a single to right. In his second at-bat, plate ump James Hoye punched him out on a fastball at the knees, a call that ended the third inning with two runners on and drew a glare from the normally impassive Jeter. Jeter added an infield hit in the eighth.