DETROIT (AP) — It was an inning that defied explanation – the New York Yankees banging out hit after hit against one of the best pitchers in baseball.
“Sometimes it just happens. The game doesn’t always make sense,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s as good as it gets, and we were able to hit some balls in the holes, and it worked out.”
The Yankees chased David Price with nine straight hits in the third inning, beating the Detroit Tigers 8-4 Wednesday night. New York scored all eight of its runs in the third off Price, who had pitched a one-hitter in his previous start.
Jacoby Ellsbury started the barrage, and New York went all the way through the batting order until the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner was pulled after the ninth hit of the inning.
“I’ve had bad games before. Not that bad,” Price said. “That was probably the worst game I’ve ever had in my life.”
Rookie Shane Greene (4-1) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings, struck out eight and walked one.
The Yankees pulled within 2 1/2 games of Seattle for the second AL wild card, while Detroit remained a half-game behind the Mariners. The Tigers fell 2 1/2 games behind first-place Kansas City in the AL Central.
Victor Martinez homered for Detroit.
Price pitched out of jams in the first and second innings Wednesday, but there was no escaping the third. Ellsbury led off with a single and scored on Derek Jeter’s double. Martin Prado added a single, and Mark Teixeira followed with a double that made it 2-0.
New York added five more singles – by Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli. Not every ball was hit hard, but by the time reliever Blaine Hardy replaced Price, it was 6-0 and the bases were still loaded.
Price (12-10) was the first pitcher who allowed nine straight hits in a game since Houston’s Bob Forsch gave up nine against Cincinnati on Aug. 3, 1989, according to STATS.
New York, which began the night tied for 19th in scoring, went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position in the first two innings. The Yankees had not gotten as many as eight runs in an inning since Sept. 2 last year against the Chicago White Sox.
TOUGH AT THE TOP: Ellsbury had two hits Wednesday, a day after he homered twice against the Tigers. He also stole his 36th and 37th bases of the year.
The second steal came in that third inning. It looked like Price had Ellsbury picked off, but his throw to first was a bit low, and then Miguel Cabrera’s throw to second was just wide enough to enable Ellsbury to slide in safely.
That play was overshadowed by the long rally that followed, when New York added eight more hits – all with men in scoring position.
“Just a big inning for us – obviously the difference in the game,” Ellsbury said. “It builds confidence. You want to be the next guy up, just keep the line moving.”
ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE: Girardi took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and the Yankees announced that they have pledged $100,000 to the ALS Association. Girardi lost his uncle Ralph to the disease earlier this year.
BAD TREND: For the third time in less than a week, a Detroit starter was knocked out in under three innings.
Spot starters Robbie Ray and Buck Farmer met that fate last week, but Price had been solid since the Tigers acquired the left-hander from Tampa Bay at last month’s trade deadline.
This was the second-shortest start of Price’s career. He went 1 1-3 innings at Texas on July 4, 2009. The 12 hits and eight runs he allowed Wednesday both equaled career highs.
Yankees: Cervelli, the catcher, was hit between the legs by a foul ball in the fifth but remained in the game. Gardner returned after missing three games with a right ankle injury.
Tigers: RHP Anibal Sanchez’s status is unchanged after a visit with Dr. James Andrews. Sanchez had a setback this week in his recovery from a right pectoral strain, and although manager Brad Ausmus remains optimistic he’ll be able to pitch again this season, the team has no timetable on his return.
Yankees: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (9-8) starts the rubber match of this three-game series Thursday. Kuroda has at least one victory over each of baseball’s other 29 teams, but he’s never beaten Detroit.
Tigers: LHP Kyle Lobstein (0-0) makes his first career start. He allowed three runs in 5 2-3 relief innings in his major league debut last weekend against Minnesota.