Brandon McCarthy won his fourth game with the Yankees in the series opener against the Tigers

Brandon McCarthy

Brandon McCarthy

The Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers and last year’s Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, 2-1 on Monday night at Yankee Stadium. They have now won two games in a row and are only a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second Wild-Card.

Brandon McCarthy allowed zero earned runs (one unearned) with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched. The Yankees have won all of his five starts since coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he has picked up the win in four of those starts. He also has a 2.08 ERA in his last five starts, and Brian Cashman gets a lot of credit for  significantly upgrading the Yankees rotation. Going from a team that is 11 games out of the playoffs in the Diamondbacks to the Yankees, who have so much prestige and a realistic chance of making the postseason, has gotten McCarthy to pitch like it is 2012.

The reason he had zero earned runs was that Marin Prado’s throwing error at third on Eugenio Suarez’s grounder led to Andrew Romine scoring on Ian Kinsler’s single. McCarthy threw 34 of his 116 pitches in the second inning, but the Yankees would not have won the game if he did not step up with runners on base. The bases were loaded with one out but McCarthy impressively got Alex Avila and Suarez to strikeout.

Joe Girardi has been impressed by how effectively McCarthy has used his curve ball. “Brandon McCarthy has used his curve ball really well,” Girardi said. “He has used it more than I thought he would.”

The Yankees scored both of their runs in the third inning. They would have scored more runs, but Ezequiel Carrera’s leaping catch near the warning track with the bases loaded and no outs might have been the catch of the year. Ichiro Suzuki ended up scoring on that catch because he tagged up from third. After Carlos Beltran lined out to second, Brian McCann’s single to right scored Brett Gardner.

Chase Headley had not played first at all in his career, but he got the start because Mark Teixeira missed the game as a result of light- headedness that began about an hour before the game started. “I have kind of given Headley a heads up that he might go over there,” Girardi said. “I told Chase this week that if I give Tex a day off you will probably play first base. I didn’t know it would be at 6:15 today.”

Gardner made an uncharacteristic mistake in the fourth as he was caught in a run down to end the inning. Prado was on third, but this base running error did not end up being costly because the bullpen was dominant once again. Matt Thornton, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley and David Robertson combined to throw 3.1 one-hit innings while Kelley had one strikeout and Robertson had two.

David Robertson picked up his third save in as many days. “When I came in I told Joe I was good. Fortunately we got a lead and I was able to hold it down. It was a great game and I feel great that we got the win.” With his 30th save in 32 chances he is tied for second in the American League in saves. The Yankees should resign Robertson soon, as Mark Feinsand wrote, so that they can keep their dominant bullpen in tact for at least a a few more years.

Jacoby Ellsbury had his first multi-hit game since July 22nd. He was impressed by how McCarthy has pitched. “He has been tremendous ever since he came over here,” Ellsbury said. “His pitching has been great.” Gardner also had two hits and with Headley’s single he now has one or more hits in eight of his past 10 games. The Yankees, who are facing the last three Cy Young winners in the first three games against the Tigers, will be opposed by David Price on Tuesday. Price won the Cy Young in 2012.

Joe Girardi won his 700th game as an MLB manager. With Derek Jeter’s single in the third inning, he is now only three more hits away from tying Honus Wagner for sixth place on the all-time hits list. He will likely either tie and pass Wagner, who played from 1897 to 1917, this series against the Tigers or the following series at home against the Cleveland Indians.

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