NEW YORK – Anibal Sanchez and the Detroit Tigers made the plays, benefited from an admitted missed call by an umpire and delivered during their few good opportunities at the plate.
The reward: a commanding 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series, and a trip home with their ace ready to start.
Sanchez shut down a Yankees lineup minus injured Derek Jeter, and Detroit won without any drama this time, beating New York, 3-0, Sunday.
Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda pitched perfect ball into the sixth inning. But the slumping New York hitters looked lost a day after their captain broke his ankle in the 12th inning of a 6-4 loss.
Making his second postseason start, Sanchez threw three-hit ball deep into the game to make Tigers manager Jim Leyland’s job much easier. A day after closer Jose Valverde gave up four runs in the ninth, Leyland said the right-hander wouldn’t close Game 2.
The Tigers scored twice in the eighth after second base umpire Jeff Nelson missed a call on a two-out tag at second base. Yankees manager Joe Girardi argued, and was ejected on his 48th birthday.
“The hand did not get in before the tag,” Nelson said after seeing a replay. “The call was incorrect.”
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Detroit, with reigning league MVP Justin Verlander starting for the Tigers against Phil Hughes. Verlander went 2-0 in the division series against Oakland, including a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts in the decisive Game 5.
The Tigers led 1-0 in the eighth and had Omar Infante on first with two outs. Austin Jackson singled and when Infante took a wide turn at second, right fielder Nick Swisher threw behind him.
Robinson Cano made a swipe tag as Infante made a headfirst dive back to second. Cano missed Infante’s arm but brushed his body, replays clearly showed. But Nelson called Infante safe. Cano and Girardi pleaded the call to no avail. Boone Logan replaced Kuroda and gave up an RBI single to pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia to make it 2-0.
Girardi returned to lift Logan for Joba Chamberlain, and then he remained on the field to resume the argument. He was tossed by Nelson for his first postseason ejection.
Miguel Cabrera added a run-scoring single.
Cano had no luck at the plate, either. The All-Star’s slump extended to a record 26 hitless at-bats in a single postseason, breaking the mark of 24 set by Baltimore’s Bobby Bonilla in 1996, according to STATS LLC.
The 47,082 fans in attendance reserved their biggest cheers for Jeter, who broke his ankle in Saturday night’s Game 1 loss.
Jhonny Peralta singled in the sixth for the Tigers’ first baserunner against Kuroda, who was pitching on short rest for the first time in his big league career. Delmon Young then gave Detroit the lead with a forceout grounder in the seventh.
Former Yankees reliever Phil Coke pitched two innings for the save.
Curtis Granderson went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk for New York and Alex Rodriguez singled in the ninth for his third hit of the postseason and finished 1-for-4. He is 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers in the playoffs.