After seeing his Yankees rotation mates go pitch for pitch against Detroit’s three Cy Young Award winners, Shane Greene was determined to match their outings.
He did them all one better.
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Greene was lifted in the ninth inning after giving up only his fifth hit, then watched as closer David Robertson got pinch-hitter Miguel Cabrera to ground into a double play in New York’s 1-0 victory over the Tigers on Thursday.
"Starting pitchers, you see one guy do good, you see the next guy do good, you start to get on a roll," Greene said.
Robertson relieved after Ian Kinsler led off with a single, and he walked Victor Martinez. Robertson came back to induce Cabrera to bounce into a double play and got Don Kelly to softly line out to shortstop with a runner on third for his 31st save and New York’s fifth win in six games.
"I had confidence he could get the job done," said Greene, who sat calmly in the dugout for the final three outs.
Stephen Drew’s RBI ground-rule double was the only extra-base hit in a game dominated by Greene and fellow 25-year-old starter Rick Porcello.
The Yankees took two of three in games started by the Tigers’ Cy Young winners with spectacular efforts from their rotation. New York’s rookie followed up by pitching the best game of them all against the AL Central leaders.
Greene (3-1) walked three and struck out five while pitching into the ninth inning for the first time in his career.
Greene didn’t permit a runner past second until Ezequiel Carrera advanced to third on Kinsler’s single in the sixth. The right-hander got out of it with his second double play.
"To be able to continue to pound the strike zone with quality pitches. That’s impressive," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Greene.
Overall, Yankees starters yielded three earned runs in 27 1-3 innings to the Tigers’ eight runs in 29 2-3 innings. Max Scherzer, David Price and Justin Verlander — the last three AL Cy Young Award winners — started the previous three games.
"The pitching was outstanding, especially the starting pitching," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Unfortunately, we didn’t take advantage in three of the four starts."
Porcello (13-6) gave up nine hits in seven innings and struck out five. The Yankees loaded the bases in the seventh but the New Jersey-born Porcello got Martin Prado to ground his 110th pitch to shortstop Andrew Romine.
The Yankees provided Greene all the support he needed with two outs in the fourth. Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley singled before Drew’s drive bounced just inside the line in left field and hopped into the stands.
Tigers: Right fielder Torii Hunter’s left hand was still swollen and he was unable to play for a second straight game. He was hit by a pitch Tuesday night.
Yankees: First baseman Mark Teixeira didn’t play, a day after getting stitches in his left pinkie after he was spiked while sliding home Wednesday night. Girardi said Teixeira is day to day. … Ace Masahiro Tanaka played catch again. "He’s got to get built up to 120 feet," Girardi said of the step needed for Tanaka to throw a bullpen. "I think he was 60-90 today."
Tigers: Anibal Sanchez (8-5) will start when Detroit opens a three-game series at Toronto on Friday. The Blue Jays swept a three-game series at Detroit in June.
Yankees: Host Cleveland for three games starting Friday. RHP Esmil Rogers (1-0, 5.84), who has pitched well in two games for the Yankees since he was claimed off waivers from Toronto, starts for New York.
The Yankees and Tigers gave some of their biggest names a rest in the day game after the teams played the night before. Derek Jeter and Brian McCann were out of the starting lineup for New York. Cabrera and Eugenio Suarez were out for Detroit. Cabrera didn’t start for just the second time this season. He was 1 for 10 in the four-game series.
Former manager Jim Leyland sat in the front row next to the Detroit dugout. Leyland led the Tigers to three straight AL Central titles before retiring last offseason.