NEW YORK (AP)—The last time the Detroit Tigers left Yankee Stadium with a three-game sweep, Al Kaline was playing the outfield and Denny McLain was on the mound.
Miguel Cabrera homered, tripled and drove in three runs, and Detroit beat the Yankees 8-4 Thursday night for its first three-game sweep in New York since 1966.
“That’s not going to happen very often,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “You feel very fortunate here if you win two out of three. You feel OK if you win one out of three.”
“We’ve got a long way to go, but we are playing better,” said Leyland, whose star-studded team opened 0-7. “I don’t think we’re over the hump yet.”
Bobby Abreu hit a three-run homer in the first inning, but failed to come through with the bases loaded in the sixth. The banged-up Yankees, who have lost six of eight, got more bad news before the game when they learned pitcher Phil Hughes is expected to be out until at least July with a stress fracture in one of his ribs.
“Right now it just seems like we have to be perfect out there and that’s tough to do sometimes,” Johnny Damon said. “We caught Detroit at the wrong time. Maybe when we go there (May 9-11) we can repay them.”
With two on and two outs, Santiago ranged to his left for Melky Cabrera’s grounder and made a difficult flip to second base for the inning-ending forceout.
“That was a big league play,” Robertson said.
Batting ninth, Santiago filled in admirably for shortstop Edgar Renteria, rested by Leyland after starting the first 28 games this year.
“They got momentum going in that inning and we shut it down there,” Santiago said.
A steady drizzle fell through the middle innings, and Robertson tumbled headlong to the turf while breaking to cover first base on Robinson Cano’s groundout to the right side in the sixth.
“I think he was more embarrassed than injured,” Leyland said.
New York chased Robertson later in the inning and loaded the bases with two outs, but Zach Miner retired Abreu on a fly to center with a 3-1 pitch.
Ordonez singled in the seventh before Cabrera lined an opposite-field shot to right off Albaladejo for his sixth home run. Miner worked 2 1-3 scoreless innings and Francisco Cruceta finished Detroit’s first sweep of at least three games at Yankee Stadium since a season-opening series in 1966.
“We started slow this season, so to come in here and win three games is big for us,” Cabrera said. “We feel confident.”
Robertson allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings for his first win in five career outings in the Bronx. He kept a game ball as a souvenir after improving to 2-5 against the Yankees and beating them for the first time since July 2004.
The left-hander fell behind 3-0 after three batters. Damon walked, Derek Jeter singled and Abreu homered to right on a 3-1 pitch.
But the Tigers came back quickly against the 23-year-old Kennedy, winless in six outings this season. Santiago hit a bloop double to left, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Curtis Granderson’s groundout.
“I should have put him away,” Kennedy said. “I just left a fastball over the plate.”
Cabrera followed with a triple that Abreu misplayed in deep right, giving Detroit a 4-3 lead.
Longtime Yankees announcer and former outfielder Bobby Murcer was at the ballpark and plans to resume his regular broadcasting schedule Friday night. Murcer said it’s taken him a while to recover from the brain biopsy he had in early March. Murcer had surgery in December 2006, four days after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. … Leyland also rested C Ivan Rodriguez. Brandon Inge made his fourth start behind the plate. … Jeter tied Joe DiMaggio for fourth place on New York’s career runs list at 1,390. … Yankees DH Hideki Matsui extended his hitting streak to a team-high 11 games.