The gap has widened.
The Tigers are what the Yankees used to be, hitting monster home runs and spending big money.
Last October, the Yankees were destroyed by the Tigers in four games, swept away in the ALCS. In their first meeting of 2013, the Tigers bludgeoned the Yankees, 8-3, yesterday at Comerica Park in the Tigers’ home opener with Prince Fielder bashing two of the hardest-hit home runs you could imagine on a day the temperature never rose above 49 degrees.
The Yankees dropped to 1-3. Scoring runs is not going to be easy.
On Fielder’s second home run, former Tiger Brennan Boesch never moved as the ball sailed deep into the right-field bleachers. It was the kind of power the Yankees can only dream about these days as they cobble together a lineup filled with players other teams opted to cut ties with for one reason or another.
The Tigers have the kind of lineup the Yankees used to have, but injuries, age and watching the bottom line have set the Yankees back to another era. Meanwhile, the Tigers added free agent Torii Hunter and have Victor Martinez back healthy to go along with the Prince of Home Runs, who is just entering his prime, and Miguel Cabrera.
The Tigers also got a long home run from catcher Alex Avila. The Yankees’ lone home run came from Kevin Youkilis, one of the few Bombers swinging a hot bat as he raised his average to .375. Years ago Tigers manager Jim Leyland praised the Yankees lineup, calling them “Murderer’s Row and Cano.’’
Now it’s Robinson Cano in a lineup that does not offer much protection.
“I feel better, I took some good swings today,’’ Cano said in a quiet Yankees clubhouse.
There is going to be a lot on his shoulders as the season progresses.
Derek Jeter broke his ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Tigers and that started the Yankees on their current downward spiral. The Yankees managed to score only two runs over the final three games against Detroit after Jeter went down.
It’s a new cruel world and yesterday’s game ended again with journeyman Jayson Nix playing shortstop because Eduardo Nunez suffered a bruised biceps after being hit by a pitch.
When managed Joe Girardi was asked how intimidating the Tigers lineup is, he did not hesitate, saying: “They have a very good lineup from top to bottom. Victor Martinez is a nice addition because we’ve seen what he’s been able to do in his career and they got him back. They have speed, they have power and their lineup is deep all the way around.’’
The gap has widened.