- Last Updated: 7:50 AM, August 10, 2012
- Posted: 1:36 AM, August 10, 2012
DETROIT — Joe Girardi against Tim Welke was the featured bout in a town where Joe Louis and Tommy Hearns were raised, but the rest of the card didn’t lack fireworks.
Girardi vs. Welke happened in the fifth inning when the third-base umpire initially called Andy Dirks’ fly ball foul and almost instantly fair for an RBI double that gave the Tigers a one-run lead.
An enraged Girardi got ejected for the third time this year. He threw his cap twice, had to be restrained by second-base ump Bob Davidson and gestured with his arms to fair and foul territory on the way off the field. In the dugout, TV cameras caught the manager holding his nose.
But back-to-back homers by Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez off Joaquin Benoit in the eighth and outstanding relief played a bigger part than Girardi’s meltdown in a pulsating 4-3 Yankees victory in front of 40,490 soggy fans at Comerica Park. With the Orioles’ 8-2 loss to the Royals, the Yankees’ lead in the AL East grew to 5 1/2 games.
“He told me he called it foul and then called it fair,’’ Girardi said. “I said my outfielder [Raul Ibanez] pulled up a little bit. He heard the crowd go ‘Oh’ and he pulled up just a second and the ball gets by him.’’
Not only did Girardi not win the argument that Quintin Berry shouldn’t have scored from first, Welke wouldn’t allow Girardi to protest because it was a judgment call.
“Everything is a judgment call and it’s just a bad play,’’ said Girardi, who expects to get fined but would be surprised if suspended. “I am going to get a fine for them making a mistake.’’
“I don’t think there was any impact on the outfielder,’’ Welke said. “We got the call right.’’
It would have been more frustrating to Girardi if the Yankees didn’t rally for the victory that allowed them to leave for Toronto with a split of the four-game series after losing the first two.
Trailing 3-2 in the eighth with one out, Teixeira went out of his usual program when the count got to 2-0.
“I was trying to hit a home run,’’ said Teixeira, whose belief that Benoit doesn’t give up a lot of hits led him to think: Why not attempt to hit the ball in the seats. “If that pitch is down and away, I am not going to try and hit it. It was up in the zone. If I popped it up, I would have been mad.’’
Teixiera’s thought was spot on. In his last 15 1/3 innings, Benoit has now given up 14 hits. Twelve of them have gone for homers.
Teixeira’s 21st homer tied the score 3-3. Chavez hit the next pitch over the left-field fence for an opposite-field homer and a 4-3 lead.
“My numbers against [Benoit] are terrible,’’ said Chavez, a career .200 hitter (3-for-15 with four Ks and no homers) against the right-hander. “I was looking for a heater and I saw change-up out of his hand.’’
Still, there was a one-run lead to protect in the eighth with the muscle of the Tigers’ order due to hit. Because David Robertson threw 35 pitches Wednesday night and Girardi said he wanted to give Joba Chamberlain two days off after he threw 21 Tuesday, neophyte David Phelps was summoned.
His first three pitches to Miguel Cabrera were out of the strike zone but he retired him on a 3-1 fly to left. Phelps worked around a Prince Fielder single to get Austin Jackson. Rafael Soriano surfaced and retired Jhonny Peralta.
Soriano stared down a first-and-third, no-out jam in the ninth and ended it when Dirks flied to center.
“After [Omar] Infante’s hit [in the ninth,] his velocity jumped up,’’ Chavez said of Soriano, who posted his 27th save. “It went from 91 to 94 [mph]. It was good to see.’’
As was the rest of the undercard.