DETROIT -- The Yankees went from the glory of Wednesday night to the gory of Thursday afternoon, dropping a winnable game, and a pivotal series, with a 3-2, bottom-of-the-ninth loss to the Detroit Tigers on Thursday afternoon.
The Yankees blew a chance to shave another game off the deficit between themselves and Detroit in the race for the second AL wild-card spot and potentially gain a game on the Baltimore Orioles, who are in action tonight, in the AL East race.
Now, it's off to Toronto, where the Yanks need to take at least two of three, and preferably sweep, the reeling Blue Jays.
Horsefeathers: Shawn Kelley, who took to wearing a horse-head mask as a good-luck charm during the Yankees' five-game winning streak, finished back in the pack today after entering the game in the ninth inning. He allowed a leadoff double to Victor Martinez, issued a walk to J.D. Martinez and -- after a clutch strikeout (looking) of Nick Castellanos and a swinging strikeout of Torii Hunter -- gave up a line drive off the wall in right by Alex Avila that scored the game winner.
Near miss: Brian McCann narrowly missed what could have been his second game-winning, three-run homer in less than a week when he crushed a 1-0 pitch from lefty Phil Coke deep into the right-field seats with two out and two on in the ninth -- only to see it go foul by less than 10 feet. McCann took too more mighty hacks but hit nothing but air, ending the inning and sending the excitable Coke into a spasm of fist-pumping on his way to the dugout.
Dealin' with Miggy: Dellin Betances found himself in a sticky situation -- a runner at second, two out and defending two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera at the plate in a tie game -- but as Betances had in their previous two confrontations, he came out on top, striking Cabrera out on a curveball. That makes 3 K's in 3 ABs for Miggy against Betances.
Not again! Hiroki Kuroda has suffered from lack of run support throughout his three-year Yankees career, and today was no different, although the Tigers' second run was largely of his own making (see below). But Kuroda's seven-inning, four-hit, two-run performance deserved better than his 10th no decision of the season.
Out of control: Kuroda's momentary lapse in command cost him the lead in the fifth, when he walked leadoff hitter Don Kelly, moved him to second on a wild pitch, and saw him score the tying run on Rajai Davis' single to right.
Run building: Unlike Wednesday night, when the Yankees strung together nine straight hits to score six third-inning runs, they took a 2-1 lead today in methodical fashion. The score was 1-1 entering the fourth inning, and the Yanks put runners on second and third thanks to Martin Prado's single and Carlos Beltran's double just inside the line in left. Prado scored on McCann's groundout to second.
Fan assist: During Castellanos' second-inning at-bat, a fan reached over the barrier in right to make a spectacular catch of a foul ball that would have landed in play and might have been catchable for Zelous Wheeler. But the fan's play gave Castellanos another chance, which he capitalized on by singling to center, and he later scored on Alex Avila's sacrifice fly to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. But there was no thanks from the Comerica Park security -- TV cameras caught an orange shirt demanding the ball back.
Giveback: Perhaps feeling guilty over the tainted nature of his second-inning run, Castellanos helped the Yankees back into the game by firing an ill-advised throw past Cabrera at first on Wheeler's slow bouncer to third, allowing Wheels to reach second; he scored an unearned run on Jacoby Ellsbury's single to tie the game 1-1.
Next: Brief flight to Toronto Wednesday night, followed by a three-game weekend series with the Blue Jays, who have fallen out of contention for much of anything this season. Pitching matchups: Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.37) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (11-8, 3.41) Friday night at 7:07 p.m.; Michael Pineda (3-2, 1.95) vs. RHP Drew Hutchison (8-11, 4.68) on Saturday at 1:07 p.m.; and Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 2.47) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (8-8, 4.40) on Sunday at 1:07 p.m.