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Yankees remember Thurman Munson, on 35th anniversary of his death

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On the day Thurman Munson died, in the middle of summer, 1979, Tony Pena was a young minor leaguer playing in Buffalo. He had boarded the team bus for the ballpark when the word went up and down the aisles. Pena knew Munson only through watching him on TV, but as a catcher he felt a kinship with him and admired the grit Munson brought to the position.

Saturday marked the 35th anniversary of Munson’s death. He was 32, the captain of a hard-edged group that had won two straight championships. Homesick after a three-game series in Chicago, Munson had flown his new Cessna Citation I/SP jet to Canton, OH, to see his wife, Diana, and their three children. Practicing takeoffs and landings at the local airport, he lost control of the plane and crashed.

Few among the players in the Yankee clubhouse had been born when Munson died, but before the team’s game in Boston Saturday afternoon, many said they were schooled on his legend, that they knew about his reputation as a gritty player.

For the older men in the room, coaches like Pena and Mick Kelleher, the memory still pierced them.

“Wow,” said Pena, the bench coach. “Thirty-five years. Really? No matter what level of ball you were playing, you knew about Thurman Munson and the way he played.”

In 1979 Kelleher, the Yankees' first base coach, was an infielder with the Chicago Cubs. He was close friends with Bobby Murcer, a former teammate, who was also close with Munson. Murcer had left the Yankees in a trade five years earlier, and the Yankees got him back six weeks before Munson’s death. The day before the crash, Murcer declined an invitation from Munson to fly with him to Canton.

Kelleher strained to recall the details, but winced thinking about that day and about Murcer, who died six years ago of brain cancer. The schedules of the Cubs and Yankees in 1979 created a slight overlap, Kelleher recalled, with many of the Yankee players in town after their series with the White Sox ended. Kelleher said he is still in touch with Murcer’s widow, Kay, and that they sometimes reminisce about Munson.

On Aug. 6, four days after Munson’s death, the entire Yankee team traveled to Canton for the funeral. They were back in New York that night, a Monday, to play the Baltimore Orioles. Murcer hit a three-run homer in the seventh, then had a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Yankees a 5-4 victory.

As the Yankees' captain, Derek Jeter has a connection with Munson. Sitting at his locker Saturday, Jeter said he had learned about Munson through Gene Monahan, the Yankees longtime head trainer, who is retired.

“I know he played hard, and he played hurt, he played everyday,” Jeter said.

Reminded that Munson and Murcer had a strong relationship, Jeter added, “That’s right. Bobby pulled out that game for them.”

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Thurman Munson still echoes around Yankee Stadium 35 years after his death

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"In one sense there is no death. The life of the soul on earth lasts beyond his departure. You will always feel that life touching yours, that voice speaking to you."

Those words, written by the philosopher/poet Angelo Patri, were memorably spoken by the late Yankee outfielder Bobby Murcer 35 years ago this week, at the funeral of his close friend and teammate Thurman Munson.

It's been three and a half decades since Munson, the gruff, tenacious Yankee captain, lost his life at the young age of 32 in a tragic crash as he piloted his own plane. While generations of Yankee fans have come along since that day, the memory of No. 15 lives on.

Thanks to replays of his "Yankeeography," his plaque at Monument Park and the legend of the "Bronx Zoo" championship Yankees of the late 70s that he held together, Munson is as much a presence at Yankee Stadium as Derek Jeter or Babe Ruth.

Thurman came to the Bronx as a rookie in 1969, when the Yankees were in the midst of several losing seasons. He made an immediate impact. Paired with other homegrown talent like Murcer, things turned around quickly. Munson became the new face of the franchise, defining the Yankee way for the next decade and more.

Due to his sometimes ferocious on-field demeanor, and his reluctance to speak to the press, Munson was labeled as surly. As someone who was in the Yankee clubhouse on a daily basis back then, I can tell you definitively that Munson was not at all like that. Was he quiet? Yes, he was. Thurman led by his presence, not by his words. He preferred to not give quotes that could be taken out of context. Media members bristled. I respected his privacy.

Thurman and I got along well. In fact, he used to tease me often. As I passed his locker, he would laugh and call out, "Who let this Red Sox spy in here?"

Bobby Murcer was traded from the Yankees in 1975 and wasn't there for the '77 and '78 championships. Luckily, he was brought back to the Bronx in June of 1979. He and Munson rekindled their close friendship. A few weeks later in late July, the Yankees were playing the White Sox on the road. Munson and Lou Piniella stayed at Murcer's Chicago apartment during the trip. They had an off day before heading back to New York. Munson decided to fly his own plane from Chicago to his home in Canton, Ohio. He invited the Murcers along. They declined.

"We drove with Thurman to the airport and sat on the hood of our car watching as he flew over our heads," Kay Murcer said. "That was the last time we ever saw him."

Just as the sorrowful events of Thursday, Aug. 2, 1979, are forever etched in the memories of his Yankee teammates and their families, so too are they with ordinary baseball fans of all ages.

Artie Tevletidis was a 9-year-old pretending to be Ron Guidry and pitching to his older brother, Jordan, who was assuming the role of Munson, outside their home on Britton Street in Jersey City, when the awful news broke on the radio. They, like thousands of others, sat there crying, unable to move.

My colleague Jim Hague was preparing to enter college that summer. Though he is a Mets fan, Jim broke down upon hearing the news, one of the few times he's ever been so moved by the loss of someone he didn't know personally.

Celebrated New Jersey artist Mike Kupka was only 7 at the time, but the bond with Munson's legacy was so strong,

that he now creates portraits of the late Yankee captain that have the seal of approval from Thurman's widow, Diana.

Jorge Posada was barely older than Kupka when Munson died and doesn't remember the day, but the heir to Thurman's position revered his predecessor so much that he always kept a picture of Thurman in his locker, which sat just a few feet away from Munson's own locker, untouched since his death. Posada was not the official Yankee captain, but he was a vocal leader in the clubhouse. He modeled his passion and playing style after Munson. "There's just some kind of connection," Posada said. "I feel like I knew him."

On Aug. 6, 1979, just before leaving with the Yankees to play in an emotional tribute game for their captain — a game where he smashed a three-run home run and got the walkoff hit — Bobby Murcer ended the eulogy for his dear friend with these fitting words courtesy of Petri, ones that still resonate with fans 35 years after Thurman's passing.

"You will always feel his spirit looking out of other eyes. He lives on in your life, and in the lives of all others that knew him."

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Yankees bullpen saves day, Mark Teixeira’s home run get lead Bombers to 6-4 win over Red Sox

In the end, holding the Yankees lead fell to Dellin Betances and David Robertson, who have arguably been the team’s most consistent players this season.

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Mark Teixeira bashes a long solo home run as the Yankees drop the Red Sox 6-4 at Fenway Park on Saturday.

Score another victory for the back end of the Yankees’ bullpen.

Set-up man Dellin Betances and closer David Robertson snuffed the Red Sox lineup after it brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning and the Bombers came away with a 6-4 win before a sellout crowd of 37,302 at Fenway Park on Saturday.

Betances came in with the Yanks up 6-3 and two on and one out in the seventh. He got David Ortiz to hit a sac fly and Yoenis Cespedes to pop out to escape the jam. It started a run of eight of nine Red Sox he and Robertson retired to end the game. Robertson’s scoreless ninth earned his 28th save.

The Yankees’ lineup produced six runs for only the third time in 13 games, but it would be difficult to say that it broke out on Saturday at Fenway. The first four runs were a direct byproduct of drawing five walks in a third-inning rally.

Mark Teixeira’s home run in the fifth and the eighth inning doubles by Carlos Beltran and Stephen Drew were the hard hit balls by the Bombers.

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Teixeira is high-fived by third base coach Rob Thomson after his blast.

Drew’s double was his first hit and RBI as a Yankee. Martin Prado, the other player acquired right before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, also had his first hit for the Yanks: a fifth-inning single.

Beltran’s second hit was a ground-rule double to start the eighth. Drew brought him in with a double over the head of right fielder Daniel Nava. In addition to the ex-Sox’ first hit and RBI, he also had his first mental gaffe as a Yankee – getting picked off second by catcher Christian Vazquez for the final out in the inning.

But in the end, holding the lead fell to Betances and Robertson, who have arguably been the team’s most consistent players this season. Betances’ effort included a strikeout of Mike Napoli in the eighth on a fastball that the Fenway radar gun clocked at 101 mph.

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Yankees’ Stephen Drew tries to scramble back to second base but is tagged out by Boston’s Dustin Pedroia (l.).

Righthander Shane Greene continued to slide, allowing three runs and coming one out shy of completing the fifth inning. Manager Joe Girardi lifted him with two on and Mike Napoli coming to the plate for Shawn Kelley. The night before Kelley allowed an inherited runner to score what would prove to be the game-winning run in a one-run loss, but he got Napoli looking at a third strike to end the threat.

Greene sparkled in his first two starts after joining the rotation July 7. He hasn’t gotten through six innings in any of the three starts since and has pitched 15.2 innings to a 5.75 ERA.

What he did have going for him was that Boston starter Allen Webster was much worse.

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Carlos Beltran slides in safely behind Boston catcher Christian Vazquez.

Greene was tagged for three runs in the Boston second, including a two-run homer by Napoli that cleared all obstacles in left. Webster walked five batter as the Yankees rallied for four runs and the lead.

The inning began with Webster walking Martin Prado, Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner to load the bases. Derek Jeter got the first two runs home with a soft double down the right field line that landed on the turf just behind the infield dirt. Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran drove in the next two runs with a ground out and a single, respectively.

There was opportunity for more run. Webster walked two more batters to load the bases with two out and was removed for Burke Badenhop. The reliever got Prado to hit into an inning-ending ground out.

The Yankees made it 5-3 in the fifth on Mark Teixeira’s 19th home run of the season, a shot over the Green Monster on the fourth pitch by reliever Craig Breslow.

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Chris Capuano of the New York Yankees throws in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 1, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox dives at Jacoby Ellsbury of the New York Yankees who stole second base in the sixth inning at Fenway Park on August 1, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees hits a home run in the 8th inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 1, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees hits a home run in the 8th inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 1, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Brett Gardner’s home run and Stephen Drew’s four RBI’s lift Yankees over Red Sox

It was the suddenly powerful Gardner's fifth home run of the seven-day, six-game road trip and it allowed the Yanks to finish with a 3-3 split, stay 5½ games back of the Orioles in the division and close to within 1½ games of the Blue Jays for the second AL wild card.

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Brett Gardner belts his fifth home run of the week, 15th of the season, to put the Yankees ahead, 8-7, as they take two of three from the Red Sox.

BOSTON — Until Thursday, Stephen Drew and Esmil Rogers were just a couple of underperforming players on AL East clubs. That was the day the Yankees brought them in, Drew in a trade with Boston and Rogers on a waiver claim from Toronto. Sunday night they were part of an important win in a playoff drive.

Drew drove in four runs, Rogers picked up a victory in his Yankee debut with three no-hit innings of relief, and Brett Gardner hit a sixth-inning home run that broke a tie that sent the Yanks to an 8-7 win over the Red Sox before a sellout crowd of 38,035 at Fenway Park.

But this was a win that was hard to celebrate, given the Yankees may have lost another staring pitcher. David Phelps, who has been at the top of the club’s rotation since it was beset by injuries, was forced from the game with elbow inflammation. He will be examined in New York Monday, but his next turn in the rotation, Friday against the Indians at the Stadium, is in doubt.

Phelps has been pitching with some discomfort on the outside of the elbow — better news than if it were inside, but still not good — since he pitched against the Reds July 18. He said that Sunday “was the most intense it’s felt” and it showed as he got knocked around for five runs in two innings before coming out.

“The last couple starts, it would loosen up — I’d be good to go,” said Phelps, who is 5-5 with a 4.24 ERA. “This time it just didn’t loosen up. It was just there. That was the cause for concern.”

He had an MRI when he first felt the discomfort and it showed no structural damage to the ligaments and tendons in the elbow. There is inflammation where the triceps enters the joint.

“I believe he’s going to pitch again — I don’t know if it’ll be his next turn, but I believe he’s going to pitch again,” Joe Girardi said. “He had the MRI before and it came back clean. He might need a little timeout.”

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Stephen Drew drives in four runs against his former team, going 2-for-4 on the night.

Rogers is a candidate to take that turn. After making 16 relief appearances with the Jays and pitching to a 6.97 ERA, he was starting in Triple-A when he got put on waivers.

Gardner’s homer was his fifth in the seven-day, six-game road trip and it allowed the Yanks to come through it 3-3, stay 5 games back of the Orioles in the division and close to within 1½ games of the Blue Jays for the second AL wild card. The Yankees overcame two three-run deficits before Gardner put them up for good.

“It’s nice not having to run to beat out an infield hit or a hustle double or triple,” Gardner said. “It’s definitely nice for a change.”

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David Phelps leaves the game in the third inning with inflammation in his right elbow.

Drew, the starting shortstop for Boston when it won the 2013 World Series, batted .176 in 39 games for the Sox, but now has five RBI in three games with the Yanks.

“I am just coming in here and being the best I can,” he said. “With the experience I have, hopefully it will pay off.”

Dellin Betances pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. David Robertson tossed a scoreless ninth and earned his 29th save with the help of a big double play started by third baseman Chase Headley snaring a Brock Holt line drive. Carlos Beltran had two hits and two runs scored.

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Chase Headley slides safely into home plate behind Brian McCann in the fifth inning.

David Ortiz’s two-run homer to dead center off Phelps made it 5-3 in the second and Dustin Pedroia’s two-run shot over the Green Monster off Chase Whitley in the fourth had Boston up 7-4.

Drew had a key hit — a two-run double — in the Yanks’ second three-run rally, in the fourth, as they tied the score.

He was unsigned until late May because after not accepting Boston’s qualifying offer, teams would have had to give up a draft pick to get him. “This is a good player,” Girardi said. “He didn’t have a lot of at-bats to get ready for the season; he was rushed and I think it probably took him some time to get going.”

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Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda have renewed hope for return from injury

Tanaka will take his first small step to get back from the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Pineda probably needs two more minor-league starts to build endurance.

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Michael Pineda could return to the Yankees after two more rehab starts.

BOSTON — While CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are done for the season, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda can still make it back to help the Yankees in their drive for the postseason. And getting back two members of the original starting rotation would be a huge lift for the Bombers.

Pineda took a major step in getting back from the injured right shoulder muscle that has had him on the disabled list since early July with a strong minor-league rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He pitched 31/3 scoreless innings and threw 58 pitches.

Monday, Tanaka can take his first small step to get back from the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. His condition will be assessed by team medical staff in New York and he could be cleared to begin throwing again.

Pineda probably needs two more minor-league starts to build the endurance to pitch again for the Yankees. Tanaka, if all goes right from here, could be looking at an early September return.

Tanaka was 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA when elbow pain led to the examination and diagnosis of the tear. Three weeks ago, he had a platelet-rich plasma injection and Joe Girardi said in recent days he has felt better. If he is cleared to throw, Tanaka could play catch the same day.

“It’s catch or no catch,” Girardi said, “those are the two options.”

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Masahiro Tanaka finds out if he can throw again on Monday.

Pineda gave up three hits and a walk and struck out four in his outing Sunday.

“He felt good, which is obviously really important. . . . He threw the ball pretty well. We’re pleased with the progress that he’s making and we’ll take another step,” Girardi said. “(He threw) free and easy. No issues. So that’s real encouraging.”

Pineda is scheduled to make his second minor-league rehab start on Friday — though its unclear for which affiliate — with a goal of getting up to 75 pitches. If that goes well, the Yankees would like him to make a third start and reach 90 pitches before coming off the DL. Before the injury, Pineda was 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA.

If the Yankees slip in the standings or sustain yet another injury in what has been an avalanche of injuries to the starting rotation, Pineda could be an option sooner. In the past, the Yanks have brought pitchers off the DL before they got to the 90-pitch mark.

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Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees prepares to bat in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 3, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Stephen Drew of the New York Yankees makes contact to allow a run to score in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 3, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Martin Prado of the New York Yankees catches a ball hit by Daniel Nava of the Boston Red Sox in the fifth inning at Fenway Park on August 3, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees connects for a home run in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 3, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees tags out Mike Napoli of the Boston Red Sox in the seventh inning at Fenway Park on August 3, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees celebrates with Stephen Drew after defeating the Boston Red Sox 8-7 at Fenway Park on August 3, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Brandon McCarthy and bullpen hold Tigers to one run as Yankees top Max Scherzer and Detroit, 2-1

McCarthy improved to 4-0 in five starts as a Yankee by allowing only an unearned run and five hits. He struck out eight and walked two and would've lasted longer if he had not thrown so many pitches so early.

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Brandon McCarthy works out of a second inning jam as he improves to 4-0 since being traded to the Yankees.

It’s hard not to notice the difference between the Yankees and Tigers these days. Detroit’s rotation is stuffed with Cy Young Award winners, including Monday night’s starter, Max Scherzer, while the Yanks are clinging to the sliver of hope from a successful rehab session by Masahiro Tanaka as they patch together a pitching staff.

But, as Joe Girardi noted before the Yankees’ 2-1 victory over the Tigers in front of 41,603 at the Stadium, all pitchers are human. And the Yankees beat Scherzer on what perhaps wasn’t his best night, even without Mark Teixeira in the lineup.

Jacoby Ellsbury broke a scoreless with a sac fly in the third inning on a deep drive to center that was caught by recent call-up Ezequiel Carrera. It was a sensational grab that should be a candidate for “Catch of the Year.” Brian McCann added an RBI single to back Brandon McCarthy’s gritty 5.2 innings and the Yanks have won three straight.

They will next face David Price and Justin Verlander, becoming the first team to face the past three Cy Young winners in three straight games, according to Elias, before finishing the series against Rick Porcello, who is 13-5.

“We know how talented their starting rotation is,” said Girardi. “They’re not always going to have perfect stuff. Pitchers sometimes are going to have their ‘A’ game, sometimes their ‘B’ game and sometimes they’ll struggle. I thought our guys had a good approach and made him (Scherzer) work.”

McCarthy improved to 4-0 in five starts as a Yankee by allowing only an unearned run and five hits. He struck out eight and walked two and would’ve lasted longer if he had not thrown so many pitches so early. He finished with a season-high 116.

“I knew this was a big series for us and I knew what they were throwing at us,” McCarthy said. “I took that as a challenge for me. This is a chance to step up against one of the best, and to make our own mark.

“We got home at 4 a.m. last night (from Boston). We’re tired, long series, we’re digging in and trying to get going here and it’s on me to do my part now and get going, especially against a tough team and someone like Max.”

Teixeira was scratched moments before the first pitch because of what the Yankees announced was “light-headedness.” He saw a team doctor and Girardi said he expects Teixeira to play Tuesday.

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Jacoby Ellsbury lines a double, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Scherzer (13-4), last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner and a candidate for this year’s hardware, too, allowed two runs and nine hits in seven innings, wriggling out of trouble several times.

McCarthy got a nice ovation when he left the game and reliever Matt Thornton finished the Tigers in the sixth by retiring Alex Avila on a grounder with two men on base. Adam Warren threw a scoreless seventh, including getting Miguel Cabrera on an easy comebacker for the frame’s final out with the tying run in scoring position.

Shawn Kelly tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and David Robertson, pitching for the third consecutive day for the first time this season, struck out two of the three batters he faced for his 30th save in 32 chances.

McCarthy was laboring in the second inning and the Tigers seemed poised to put up some runs, but the righty did not wilt, striking out two batters with the bases loaded to escape.

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Derek Jeter runs out of the box as the Yankees tally nine hits against the reigning Cy Young Award winner.

He settled down afterward and the Yankees staked him to a lead by scoring twice in the third inning. The lead would have been much bigger if not for Carrera’s remarkable diving catch in center with the bases full.

Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter started the inning with singles, loading the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury pounded a deep drive to center that sent Carrera racing back.

Just before the warning track, he dove toward the wall and snared the ball in the heel of his glove. He crashed to the ground and slid onto the dirt track, but still held the ball. Ellsbury had to settle for a sacrifice fly instead of extra bases. Had Carrera missed, Ellsbury might have had an inside-the-park grand slam.

Television cameras caught Jeter gazing at a replay on the Stadium scoreboard. He could clearly be seen saying “Wow” as he watched from first base.

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Ezequiel Carrera crashes into the ground after robbing Ellsbury with the bases to keep the game close.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a better catch this year,” Ellsbury said.

One out later, McCann singled in the Yanks’ other run and two was enough. McCarthy allowed an unearned run in the fifth set up by Martin Prado’s throwing error, but McCarthy and the bullpen kept it at 2-1.

And the Yankees had a win against one of the AL’s elite teams and its elite starter. Now they just have to face two more Cy Young winners and another ace.

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‘We’re taking it personally': Here they are, your underdog Yankees

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Brandon McCarthy is applauded by Yankees fans Monday.

The Tigers came to The Bronx with their chorus line of Cy Young Award winners ready to go, a-one and a-two and a-three.

It was Max Scherzer on Monday before it will be David Price on Tuesday and Justin Verlander on Wednesday. Cy 2013, Cy 2012 and Cy 2011, respectively, for Detroit, and Brandon McCarthy, Hiroki Kuroda and Chris Capuano, respectively, for the home team.

That could have been enough to make any jealous Yankees fan — or, for that matter, Yankees pitcher — sigh.

But not McCarthy.

“Not only as an opponent but as a baseball fan, to have the last three Cy Youngs lined up in descending order is kind of ridiculous,” said McCarthy, who gutted through 5 ²/₃ innings to gain the 2-1 victory over Cy One. “I knew going into the game that it was going to be a challenge for me, which I accepted, and we know that it’s a great challenge who we’re up against this series.

“To that extent, we’re taking it personally. When this series is over, we want to be the story.”

McCarthy is one of the primary reasons the Yankees have managed to tread water and stay in the hunt for a playoff berth despite a casualty list of pitchers that seems to multiply pretty much every time you turn around.

For the tall 31-year-old right-hander has gone 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in five starts since coming to New York from Arizona on July 6 with an assortment that prominently features a sinker and now includes a healthy dollop of mental toughness.

“That’s one of the things I’ve been working on: not backing down on pitches,” McCarthy said after a 116-pitch night through which he yielded only an unearned run on five hits while striking out a pair. “This is pennant-race baseball where you just have to keep grinding.”

The Yankees have turned into a bunch of grinders this season, necessity becoming the mother of reinvention following injuries across an aging roster that has tested the club’s resolve and depth. This is a team that as often as not these days features replacement players, often out of position, as Chase Headley was at first on Monday after Mark Teixeira was a late scratch due to “lightheadedness.”

These aren’t the marquee Yankees that had such a magnificent and enduring run. The marquee names are in the other dugout this series, the Cy Young winners and the reigning double-MVP Miguel Cabrera. Indeed, the Tigers are the team that pulled off the headline deal to get Price from Tampa Bay while the Yankees did some cutting and pasting to get Stephen Drew and Martin Prado.

Blockbusters there. Band-Aids here.

You might say that the Tigers are more of what the Yankees used to be than the Yankees are themselves these days, except of course for the presence of Captain Icon.

“We’ve got the Cy Young winners, the active leader in saves now in Joe [Nathan], Miggy [Cabrera, the 2012 and 2013 MVP], Vic [Victor Martinez], nobody is ever going to be Derek Jeter,” Joba Chamberlain said upon his first visit to The Bronx as an opponent after seven tumultuous years as a Yankee. “No disrespect to anybody on the team, but that’s the way it is.”

But you know what? Résumés don’t win baseball games or championships. The Yankees themselves could have told you as much after losing the 2002 first round to the Angels, the 2003 World Series to the Marlins, the 2006 first round to the Tigers, the 2007 first round to the Indians, the … well, you get the idea.

Scherzer, 34-7 the last two years and 50-14 over the last three seasons, is eligible to become a free agent this winter. There is little doubt the Yankees will be all over the 30-year-old right-hander, who rejected the Tigers’ offer of a six-year, $144 million extension before the season began. That’s a story for another time.

“I hadn’t really thought about the three Cy Young winners in a row, but as a player, you want to go out and compete against the best, and that’s what we’ll have the opportunity to do in this series,” said Jacoby Ellsbury, who drove in the first run with a third-inning sacrifice fly to deep center on which Ezequiel Carrera made a breathtaking, over-the-shoulder, diving catch on the warning track.

“You get up for games like this.”

And now that the Yankees have gotten the first game of the series in which the Tigers did not succeed, there’s only one thing for Detroit to do.

And that is to Cy, Cy again.

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Yankees beat Tigers, struggling ace Justin Verlander but Mark Teixeira hurts hand

Teixeira is going to miss at least Thursday afternoon’s series finale after getting three stitches and a scare.

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Teixeira gets his left hand caught under the cleat of Bryan Holaday.

Mark Teixeira spread his arms out wide, a helpful hint to the plate umpire. But he was grimacing at the same time because he had just jammed his left hand into the catcher’s spikes and his pinkie was slashed on a play at home in the eighth inning Wednesday night.

Teixeira scored an insurance run in the Yankees’ 5-1 victory over the Tigers and another former Cy Young Award winner, but it might take a couple of days to find out the win’s real cost. Teixeira is going to miss at least Thursday afternoon’s series finale after getting three stitches and a scare.

It put an undercurrent of unease into the Yanks’ fourth victory in five games. Teixeira’s hand was swollen and wrapped as he spoke to reporters in the clubhouse afterward, though X-rays were negative.

The cut he showed reporters seemed small, but there was something there that made Teixeira wince. “It was pretty bad,” Teixeira said. “I took one look at it and looked away. Steve (Donohue, the head athletic trainer) rushed me up here and we got it cleaned up, got the stitches in there and hopefully it will be healed soon.”

If Teixeira, the Yanks’ home-run leader, is going to be out even just through the weekend, the Yankees will need more power performances like the ones they got Wednesday from Chase Headley and Brian McCann. Headley homered into the second deck in right in the fifth off Justin Verlander to tie the score at 1 and McCann snapped the tie two innings later with his own solo shot.

McCann’s homer, his second in as many days and 13th of the season, soared over the 385-ft. sign in right-center and made a winner out of Adam Warren (2-5), who relieved Chris Capuano with two outs in the seventh and preserved a tie and then threw a scoreless eighth after McCann’s blast.

Capuano was terrific, allowing only an unearned run and five hits in 6.2 innings while striking out eight and walking one. The 40,067 at the Stadium gave him a warm ovation when he came out of the game.

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Jacoby Ellsbury makes an impressive catch in the 6th.

“He was phenomenal,” Headley said. “What a job, obviously, by him, but how about all three nights going against the caliber of pitchers that we faced? I feel like our guys have stepped up toe-to-toe and either out-pitched them or been right there. Just another phenomenal job. He really had them guessing.”

It was the second time in three nights that the Yanks’ beat one of Detroit’s big trophy-winners – they topped Max Scherzer on Monday. The Yankees also faced David Price Tuesday and got the game into extra innings before losing.

It wasn’t pretty Wednesday, though. The Yanks made four errors, including two on the same play in the eighth by new second baseman Stephen Drew. But the only runner who reached on a miscue and scored was Rajai Davis, who got on when Derek Jeter botched his first-inning grounder.

But the Yanks homered their way into the lead and then added three insurance runs in the eighth inning, meaning the game snapped the Yanks’ streak of 16 in a row that were decided by two runs or fewer.

Verlander (10-10), who has never won at the new Yankee Stadium in seven starts, including the postseason, gave up two runs in seven innings and retired the first 11 Yankees.

“I’m not going to dwell on two homers,” Verlander told reporters. “Headley’s was gone anywhere, McCann’s probably not in a lot of places. Overall it was a good game.”

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Yankees' Brian McCann gets a hug in the dugout after his home run helps the Yankees to a 5 - 1 win.

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Chris Capuano gets an approving bump from Derek Jeter after a solid outing.

Teixiera raced home in the eighth when the Tigers fouled up a double-play attempt started by Miguel Cabrera. He was initially called out but Girardi challenged the call and it was overturned.

Teixeira seemed to think that catcher Bryan Holaday blocked the plate, violating baseball’s new collision rules, though it appeared there was plenty of room for Teixeira and that Holaday only moved toward him when he had the ball.

“There was only a little bit of plate available,” he said. “I thought we had rules about that, but that’s a different story. I slid and just got my hand in there and his foot was right on top of the plate.”

Teixeira added: “You just don’t know the rules now. Could I have run him over? I don’t know,” Teixeira added. “I was safe, that’s all that matters.”

Of course, that won’t be true if Teixeira is out for any length of time.

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Capuano8-6.jpg

Chris Capuano of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch against the Detroit Tigers during the third inning in a MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on August 6, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Chase Headley of the New York Yankees hits a home run during the fifth inning against of the Detroit Tigers in a MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on August 6, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Brian McCann of the New York Yankees hits a home run against the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning of a MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on August 6, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees slides safely into home as before the tag by catcher Bryan Holaday of the Detroit Tigers on a fielders choice hit by Brian McCann during the eighth inning of a MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on August 6, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Tigers 5-1.

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Shane Greene throws eight scoreless innings, Stephen Drew drives in winning run as Yankees take 3 of 4 from Tigers

Greene struck out five for his third win of the season. The Bombers downed Detroit with a rotation of also-rans against the Tigers' Cy Young candidates.

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Shane Green strikes out five over eight shutout innings Thursday.

The Tigers' vaunted pitching staff was the one getting all the hype entering this week's series, but it was the Yankees' makeshift rotation that stole the show.

Shane Greene fired eight scoreless innings to lead the Yankees to a 1-0 victory over the Tigers, lifting the Bombers to a win of the four-game series.

Greene held the Tigers to five hits and three walks, striking out five to improve to 3-1 this season.

Joe Girardi sent Greene out for the ninth, but after Ian Kinsler led off with a single, David Robertson closed the game with the final three outs, stranding the tying run at third base to record his 31st save in 33 opportunities.

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Derek Jeter takes the day off on Thursday before the Yankees welcome the Indians Friday.

Greene joined Brandon McCarthy and Chris Capuano in shutting out the Tigers this week, but after McCarthy lasted 5.2 innings in Monday's win and Capuano went 6.2 in Wednesday's victory, the rookie righthander did them one better by going eight-plus frames.

Rick Porcello, who entered the game tied with teammate Max Scherzer for the AL lead with 13 wins, did his job by holding the Yankees to one run over seven innings. But like Scherzer and Justin Verlander, who each took losses despite seven innings of two-run ball, Porcello couldn't help make up for his team's lack of offense against the Yankees' surprising staff.

Stephen Drew drove in the game's only run with a two-out double in the fourth.

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Stephen Drew drives in the game’s only run, doubling home Carlos Beltran in the fourth inning.

Greene was in control the entire game, allowing just two baserunners to advance beyond first base, giving the Tigers only two at-bats against him with a man in scoring position.

Detroit had men at first and second with two out in the fifth before Greene fanned Don Kelly to end the threat, then Greene got Victor Martinez to ground into an inning-ending double play with one out and runners at the corners in the seventh.

Greene had 89 pitches after seven, prompting Girardi to send him back out for the eighth. The rookie rewarded his manager's faith with a nine-pitch inning, but he allowed a single to start the ninth.

Girardi called on Robertson, who walked Victor Martinez to put the go-ahead run on base with nobody out. Miguel Cabrera pinch-hit for J.D. Martinez, but Robertson got the two-time MVP to ground into a double play before retiring Don Kelly to end the game.

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