Guillen, Tigers slam Yankees
Detroit now atop the AL Central
NEW YORK -- After rolling along for weeks, the Yankees have suddenly hit a skid.
Carlos Guillen hit a first-inning grand slam off Mike Mussina and Ivan Rodriguez also homered to help the Detroit Tigers beat New York, 8-5, last night for the Yankees' third straight loss after they'd won nine of 10.
"I'm happy to say it seems very odd," New York manager Joe Torre said. "We still have a great deal of confidence."
Justin Verlander held New York's powerful offense in check and the Tigers won the opener of a key four-game series to move back into first place in the AL Central, a half-game ahead of idle Cleveland. The Yankees fell 5 1/2 games behind the idle Red Sox in the AL East.
"We've got a pretty good lineup, too," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
Gary Sheffield finished 0 for 3 with a pair of walks in his return to Yankee Stadium. The former New York slugger, traded to Detroit in the offseason, was booed before each plate appearance -- hours after standing by the critical comments he recently made about Torre.
"I noticed some cheers," Sheffield said. "You have to have been a hell of a player to get a reaction like that."
The Tigers and Yankees meet seven more times in the next 11 days. This was their first matchup since Detroit's upset in the first round of the 2006 postseason.
"We've run into some pitchers that have pitched well against us," Derek Jeter said. "Those are going to be challenges, and unfortunately, we haven't been up to it yet."
Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge, and Sean Casey each had an RBI single for Detroit, which took advantage of a crucial error by third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the first.
Mussina (8-8) won his previous four starts before getting tagged for seven runs -- six earned -- and nine hits in five innings.
"I didn't feel comfortable out there," he said. "Today I didn't really know where the ball was going all that well. All the things I was doing well the last four games, I couldn't do today."
Verlander (13-4) allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings to win his second consecutive start.
Four relievers finished for the Tigers.