NEW YORK, NEW YORK - It took all day. Literally, all day. Wednesday afternoon’s game between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees started one hour and 26 minutes late. After seven innings, another delay, this one three hours and 11 minutes.
And when it was all said and done, one team took advantage of their opportunities. The other did not.
Pitching in the smallest of parks, Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann did his part in squelching two Yankees opportunities that could have re-wrote an outstanding day on the mound.
Zimmermann twice erased a pair of two-men on situations and pitched perhaps his best game of the season, throwing his first scoreless outing in over a year as the Tigers beat the Yankees, 2-0.
Zimmermann was great, keeping his opponents off-balance and most importantly – in the park – on a drizzly and gray day in the Bronx. First pitch was delayed by one hour and 26 minutes and the game was paused at 4:50 p.m., entering the top of the eighth inning.
Zimmermann allowed six hits over seven innings. He struck out six and walked none. It marked the first time since last June in which he pitched seven innings in back-to-back starts.
The Tigers jumped on Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka early, recording hits on three of his first five pitches. The latter was an RBI double from Justin Upton to open the scoring. But with runners on second and third base and nobody out, they could not extend the lead as Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos both struck out swinging and Victor Martinez flew out.
While Zimmermann cruised, the Tigers tacked on a run in the fourth inning when James McCann extended a career-long hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single to centerfield, scoring Mikie Mahtook, who was running hard from first base and scored when Jacoby Ellsbury bobbled the ball not once or twice, but three times.
According to MLB StatCast, Mahtook went from first-to-home in 10.36 seconds, the fastest time of a Tiger traveling the same distance this season.
Zimmermann danced out of two dilemmas.
In the third inning, New York put two men on with one out when Brett Gardner and Ellsbury delivered back-to-back singles, but Zimmermann struck out Aaron Judge and induced a groundout to third base from Gary Sanchez. In the sixth inning, Judge led off with a single and Sanchez doubled to left, putting runners on second and third base with nobody out.
What followed was equally good pitching by Zimmermann and bad baseball by the Yankees, who only needed two outs to tie the game: With lefty batter Didi Gregorious up, he could have hit a groundball to the right side of the infield to score one run. Then a sacrifice fly would have scored the other. Instead, Gregorious and Matt Holliday popped straight up and Chase Headley struck out swinging.
Zimmermann pounded the zone and did not walk a batter for just the fifth time this season. His slider was outstanding. After a lead-off single in the fourth inning, he struck out the side looking.
The rains, which threatened throughout the day with drizzles, finally came in earnest as the top of the eighth inning began.
When play resumed, at 8:01 p.m., Yankees right-hander Dellin Betances threw an immaculate inning, striking out the Tigers on nine pitches in the eighth.
Bruce Rondon relieved Zimmermann and his outing began ominously when Ellsbury reached on an infield single. He fell behind both Judge and Sanchez but struck them out and threw a scoreless inning.
Shane Greene picked up his second straight save in the ninth inning.
With the win, the Tigers have won consecutive series against the Astros and Yankees, two teams in American League contention. They are 49-57.
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