New York's woes could continue Sunday at Yankee Stadium versus Justin Verlander, who seems to be rounding into form after a mechanical adjustment, though Alex Rodriguez has seen success against him recently.
The Yankees (58-57) opened the series with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Friday, but tumbled back to Earth on Saturday with a 9-3 defeat.
Miguel Cabrera homered for the third time in four games despite playing on a bandaged leg, and Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson also went deep as Detroit (69-46) improved to 17-4 since the break. Jackson is 10 for 21 over his last four games with nine runs, four doubles, two triples and two homers.
The Yankees are 7-13 since the break - the worst mark by any team with a winning record - though another loss Sunday would see them slip to .500 for the first time since being 5-5 on April 13.
Rodriguez wasn't in the lineup Saturday for the first time since making his season debut. He was 0 for 4 and struck out three times Friday in his first game back in the Bronx, getting relentlessly booed, but manager Joe Girardi said it was a routine off-day for the third baseman. Rodriguez is 3 for 15 with two walks in four games.
"It's a quick turnaround and he's coming off an injury," Girardi said. "If we don't have that late night, maybe I play him today."
It's hardly been a career year for Verlander (12-8, 3.50 ERA), whose ERA is his highest since 2008. However, he's coming off back-to-back wins for the first time since early June, limiting his last two opponents to two runs over 14 innings while striking out 13.
Verlander said he changed his motion toward the plate in his last start, which saw him throw eight innings in a 5-1 victory at Cleveland on Tuesday.
"The adjustment that I made obviously made not just a little impact but a pretty big impact," said Verlander, who gave up three runs over 7 1-3 innings of a 7-0 defeat to New York on April 7.
"Everything I've been searching for I was able to find it today."
Verlander has given up at least three runs in six of his last seven starts versus the Yankees, posting a 1-3 record with a 3.83 ERA.
Given his track record against the former Cy Young Award winner, Rodriguez could be a big asset to the Yankees on Sunday. He's 8 for 24 lifetime off Verlander with three homers and four walks. Two of the home runs came last year as he was 4 for 6 against him.
New York starter Andy Pettitte (7-9, 4.71) comes off his worst showing of the season as he gave up seven runs and 11 hits - 10 singles - in 2 2-3 innings of an 8-1 road loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday.
Three of those runs came in the first inning against the left-hander, who is the first Yankees pitcher since at least 1920 to allow at least one run in the first inning of seven straight starts in a single season. Pettitte has given up 14 first-inning runs in that span, and opponents are hitting .396 against him in the first frame this year.