DETROIT -- There have been times in recent weeks when the Yankees have been able to utilize other aspects of their game to compensate for their struggles at the plate with runners in scoring position.
Saturday was not one of those nights.
Two otherwise potentially consequential late-inning comebacks were rendered fruitless in a 4-3 walk-off loss to the Tigers on a night when the New York bullpen faltered late and the club's lineup went 1-for-12 with men in scoring position.
"That's been the thing that we've been struggling with this season," said Curtis Granderson, who struck out in the seventh and flied out in the ninth with runners in scoring position, dropping his average in such situations this year to .227 (10-for-44). "We've got to go ahead and get runners across the board, especially because we had guys today in the later innings with less than two outs. They add up -- no matter what inning you happen to get them, a run is a run at the end of the day. They end up helping you be victorious when it's all said and done."
This time, it was not so. And the Yankees paid the ultimate price in the bottom of the ninth when reliever Boone Logan surrendered the game-winner, a sacrifice fly to Detroit catcher Omir Santos that scored Brennan Boesch from third base.
New York strung together two-out rallies while trailing in the eighth and ninth innings. The lone delivery with a man in scoring position came in the eighth, when Nick Swisher came through with a two-out single off Octavio Dotel, scoring Mark Teixeira from second. In the ninth, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out against closer Jose Valverde, who hit two batters and walked Teixeira to plate Dewayne Wise for the tying run.
The Yankees had runners in scoring position in the first, second, third and seventh but couldn't score.
"We just couldn't get the hit," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was ejected along with hitting coach Kevin Long in the seventh inning by home-plate umpire Bob Davidson. "We were patient, we got the walks, the hit-by-pitches -- we just never got the hit. And that was kind of the story the whole night."
The eighth-inning comeback was squandered when reliever Cory Wade, who entered in place of starter Hiroki Kuroda, gave up a deep home run to Detroit's Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the frame. The two-out blast was Cabrera's second of the night, and both were no-doubters, each traveling well over 430 feet to straightaway center field.
"It's a 2-1 changeup down; it wasn't a bad pitch at all," Yankees catcher Russell Martin said of the second blast. "That's impressive. Right there, you really can't do anything except tip your hat to that guy. ... That's just one of the best hitters in baseball doing his thing."
In the bottom of the ninth, New York reliever David Phelps surrendered one-out singles to Boesch and Jhonny Peralta before Logan entered to face pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago, whom he walked intentionally to reach Santos. The catcher drove Logan's 0-1 delivery to right field, where Nick Swisher had no play on Boesch with his throw to the plate.
New York's offense fell quiet again behind Kuroda, who left a game with two runs or fewer of support for the seventh time in 11 starts this year. Kuroda still has just one road victory to his name in six outings away from the Bronx, with a 4.17 ERA in those contests.
"You have to stay resilient and battle and fight, and hopefully you give your team a chance to win," Kuroda said. "We almost did, but hopefully next time."
Kuroda threw seven innings on Saturday, allowing two runs while scattering seven hits and striking out four. Tigers starter Rick Porcello finished the night with six hits and one run allowed in six innings, striking out three.
"It was exciting -- that's for sure," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We didn't want it to go kind of the way it did. I think Ricky was real good tonight. I thought he did an excellent job. It got a little hairy there, obviously, but it was a good win for the home crowd and an exciting game, so that was a good one."