New Tigers closer Greene gets 1st save in 4-3 win over Yanks
By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Shane Greene headed to the mound for the first time as a major league closer.
“Running out of that door and your teammates looking, depending on you, and you being able to put your team on your back and get the job done is what I live for,” he said.
Greene induced a double play from Matt Holliday that ended the eighth inning , then stranded the potential tying run at third base in the ninth inning, retiring rookie Clint Frazier on a game-ending popup Tuesday night that preserved the Detroit Tigers’ 4-3 win over the New York Yankees.
“I love it,” said the 28-year-old right-hander, who got the closer’s job after Detroit traded Justin Wilson to the Chicago Cubs on Monday. “When the game’s on the line, it’s almost like you borderline black out, and you just compete. And that’s what I fuel off of.”
John Hicks hit a three-run, second-inning homer in his first big league game in more than a month, and Justin Upton added a solo shot in the third off CC Sabathia (9-4) , both on sliders. Didi Gregorius drove in three runs for the Yankees, two on his 17th homer, a fourth-inning drive against Anibal Sanchez (3-1) that hooked just fair of the right-field foul pole.
Greene made his big league debut for the Yankees in April 2014 and was traded to Detroit that December as part of the three-team swap that sent Gregorius from Arizona to New York.
The right-hander entered after Gregorius singled off Daniel Stumpf in the eighth , a run that was unearned because Gary Sanchez’s single to left against Alex Wilson bounced off Upton’s glove for an error.
Holliday grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, and Greene got the first two outs of the ninth before walking pinch-hitter Jacoby Ellsbury. Greene then bounced a pickoff throw past first, allowing Ellsbury to sprint to third on the error.
“I kind of laughed in my head when I threw the ball away. It brought back some memories with the three-error start,” Greene said, flashing back to July 21, 2014, when he threw wildly on two grounders and dropped a throw while covering first base for New York in a 4-2 loss to Texas at Yankee Stadium.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus went to the mound, and Detroit intentionally walked left-handed-hitting Brett Gardner, who stole second. That brought up Frazier, a right-handed hitter. Lefties were hitting .217 against Greene coming in and righties .171.
Frazier popped out to shortstop Dixon Machado in short left.
“Best part of it: I’m going to get another chance in the future, and I’m going to capitalize on it next time,” Frazier said.
Greene’s only previous saves were in an 11-inning, opening-day win over Miami last year, and a rain-shortened game against the White Sox on July 21 last season.
“Even though I’ve had two before, this was the first one in my own head,” he said.
He’ll get more chances over the final seven weeks.
“People around the league already know he’s a very good relief pitcher,” Ausmus said. “He was kind of my flex reliever. I would use him anywhere from the fifth inning on.”
A 27-year-old rookie recalled Monday for his fifth major league stint this season, Hicks homered on the 10th pitch of his at-bat , a drive over 6-foot-7 Aaron Judge and into the second row of the right-field seats.
Hicks had not played for the Tigers since June 27. The first baseman/catcher was brought back after Tigers general manager Al Avila traded his son, Alex, to the Cubs along with Wilson for prospects.
“At times I’ve just left a suitcase packed, just in case,” Hicks said. “I’ve got kind of a theory behind packing it, so I get it done pretty quick. Just have the dress clothes kind of ready that I want, and the clothes, keep them washed as much as I can.”
Making his eighth start since being shifted to the rotation in mid-June, Sanchez allowed six hits in a season-high 6 2/3 innings and improved to 3-0 at Yankee Stadium.
In his 500th big league start, Sabathia gave up six hits in six innings. He shouted at plate umpire Mike Estabrook in the middle of the fifth, causing Estabrook to come over to the dugout and exchange words with New York manager Joe Girardi.
“For some reason, 25-year-old CC felt like taking the mound today, so he got that,” Sabathia said.
New York’s 7-3 win Monday was seen by 446,000 viewers on YES, the network’s most-watched program since Derek Jeter’s Yankee Stadium finale on Sept. 25, 2014, was seen by 1.25 million, the most in the network’s history. Yankees games on YES averaged 336,000 viewers last month, the most in July since 2012.
Tigers: SS Jose Iglesias didn’t play, a day after straining his right wrist on a strikeout.
Yankees: 2B Starlin Castro (strained right hamstring) still hasn’t started running.