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Yankees 7, Tigers 0

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- C.C. Sabathia painted over scrutiny of his diminished fastball on Sunday with seven shutout innings and light-hitting Jayson Nix swatted a two-run homer to cap a three-run second inning against Justin Verlander that helped give the New York Yankees a 7-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

It was New York's first win in its last seven meetings with Detroit, including a four-game sweep by the Tigers in the American League Championship Series last fall.

The slimmed-down Sabathia, who appears to have dropped 20-30 pounds since last season, lost his season opener with a fastball that topped out at 91 mph, 2-3 mph below a couple seasons ago and 5-6 mph off his early career velocity.

But the 6-foot-7 southpaw restricted Detroit to four hits in seven innings with a fastball generally at 88-90 mph on the Comerica Park radar gun witho ccasional peaks at 91.

Sabathia kept the ball out of the middle of the plate and got outs on change-ups or curves that danced around the corners of the strike zone.

It reflected what Yankees manager Joe Giardi talked about before the game that location is more important for Sabathia.

Yankees reliever David Robertson struggled through a scoreless eighth, stranding two runners, and Mariano Rivera worked the ninth.

Verlander occasionally likes to try to sneak a change-up or off-speed pitch past a light hitter -- and occasionally they make him pay for it.

Such was the case in the second inning when Nix, subbing for injured Eduardo Nunez, jumped on a do-nothing change-up and powered it over the left-field fence for a two-out, two-run homer, his first home run of the season.

A leadoff walk and one-out RBI double by Francisco Cervelli had broken a scoreless tie earlier in the inning. The runs were the first Verlander has allowed in his two starts this season.

Cervelli had an RBI single in the eighth after reliever Phil Coke gave up two hits and a sacrifice fly to Ichiro Suzuki.

Kevin Youkilis added a two-run single for the Yankees in the ninth.

The crowd of 39,892 at Comerica Park was not a sellout for the first time in the home-opening series, but the three-game total of 127,333 marked Detroit's largest for its first three home games since 1948, when Cleveland and Detroit drew 135,768 to Tiger Stadium.

NOTES: Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda should be able to make his scheduled start Monday in Cleveland, Girardi said. "He's a go, unless something happens." ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland had some sympathy for Matt Tuiasosopo, sending him to left field at Comerica Park on a windy day for his first start. "There's going to be a 25 mph wind out there," Leyland said. "Here's the map and the keys, and good luck, buddy." ... Velocity is overrated, Girardi said in response to increasing scrutiny of a fastball that Sabathia is only getting up to 91 mph early in the season. "It comes down to location," Girardi said. "If he's pitching well, no one gets caught up in velocity. If a guy is heavy and winning, no one gets caught up in his weight. You have to make quality pitches." ... Detroit had just one lefty reliever, Coke, available to pitch Sunday against a left-heavy New York lineup. Leyland was holding out lefties Drew Smyly, who worked four innings Friday, and Darin Downs, who worked two Saturday. ... Nunez tested his sore right biceps Sunday and said he was not yet ready to return to the lineup. "He feels better," Girardi said, "but he said he's just not ready to go. He tried to swing and throw. He'll try again Monday." Nunez, who pinch-ran Sunday, was hit by a pitch in the right biceps on Friday. Nix has replaced him in the field. ... Rivera was honored by the Tigers in a pregame ceremony. He was given containers of dirt from the mounds at Comerica Park and Tiger Stadium flanking pictures of him in action against Detroit.
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