Updated: 8/17/10 7:06 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP/WFAN) — Max Scherzer kept the Detroit Tigers in control most of the way. Once Jose Valverde came in, that’s when things got wild.
Scherzer pitched two-hit ball for six shutout innings and a shaky Valverde got Derek Jeter to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded Monday night, giving the Tigers a 3-1 win over the New York Yankees.
Tigers second baseman Carlos Guillen took a hard hit to the leg from speedy Brett Gardner and still managed to make a strong relay that nipped Jeter. Guillen was down on the ground for a few moments and will be examined Tuesday.
“It was really the play of the game,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “He took it like a man.”
Said Guillen: “I felt when he hit me. I was scared.”
Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher left the Yankees’ lineup early with ailments. Rodriguez came out after four innings because of tightness in his left calf and Swisher exited with tightness in his right forearm. Both players were day to day.
“Would I be a little surprised if he played tomorrow?” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Rodriguez. “Yes, but not completely.”
The Tigers took a 3-0 lead into the ninth — the Yankees were close to being shut out in consecutive games for the first time since 1999.
Valverde escaped an eighth-inning jam, but quickly saw the Yankees load the bases with one out in the ninth on two walks and a single. A walk to Gardner forced home a run, and brought up Jeter.
“He was effectively wild, I guess,” Jeter said.
Valverde held on for his 23rd save in a row. He wasn’t available a day earlier because of a strained side muscle that’s left him struggling, and Leyland came out to check his health during the walk to Gardner.
“In this life, nothing’s easy and nothing’s hard,” Valverde said. “I’m ready to go every time.”
Fine by Leyland.
“When they say they’re ready to pitch, they’re pitching,” he said. “Every year you see guys that are taken out of the closer role. But he’s not coming out of my closer role, I can tell you that. Anytime that a closer gets into a funk, it kind of gets magnified.”
The highest-scoring team in the majors managed only six hits overall against Scherzer (8-9) and a trio of relievers. New York lost for the fifth time in eight games.
Not since May 1999, when the Anaheim Angels stopped them, have the Yankees been blanked in back-to-back games, STATS LLC said. Now tied with Tampa Bay for the AL East lead, they did little a day after being limited to two singles in a 1-0 loss at Kansas City.
“Not swinging the bats like we’d like to,” Jeter said.
Ryan Raburn hit a two-run homer in the second off Javier Vazquez (9-9). Miguel Cabrera hit his 28th home run in the ninth off Joba Chamberlain.
Detroit’s Johnny Damon drew a standing ovation in his return to Yankee Stadium. He took off his batting helmet, revealing a neatly trimmed Mohawk haircut, waved to the crowd and turned to the New York dugout before batting in the first.
The Yankees applauded their former teammate, who helped them win the World Series last season. Damon went 0 for 3 with two walks.
“This was a magical place last year,” Damon said before the game. “Seems like they’re doing fine without me.”
Facing the Yankees for the first time in his career, Scherzer held them to a pair of puny singles. He struck out Jeter and Swisher to begin his outing, and fanned six overall with two walks.
Scherzer got Jeter to ground into a double play with two on to end the third. Relievers Phil Coke, Ryan Perry and Valverde closed out the Yankees.
Raburn hit his fifth home run in 11 games, launching a drive over the left-field wall in the second inning.
Jeter’s career-best streak of 52 games without an error ended. The Yankees shortstop made a wide throw on Cabrera’s routine grounder in the fifth.
NOTES: The Tigers won their third straight road game. Before that, they had lost 13 of their previous 14 road games. … The Yankees started their Hope Week, with every player taking part in events that highlight family and community outreach. Mariano Rivera, Teixeira and Swisher were among the Yankees who enjoyed a pool party at the New Jersey home of 13-year-old Jorge Grajales, who was born in Panama and had all four limbs amputated because of a childhood illness. Grajales watching batting practice behind the cage, stretched on the field with Rivera and threw out the first ball.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)