Yanks outfielders go extra mile to rob extra bases
Gardner, Ellsbury frustrate V-Mart, while club turns three DP's, but late chances missed
By Adam Berry
DETROIT -- Victor Martinez led off the fifth inning Monday night with a deep fly ball into the gap in right-center field -- a drive that looked like an obvious extra-base hit for the Tigers' designated hitter. Even Jacoby Ellsbury thought so.
"But, you know, I always go for everything like I can catch it," Ellsbury said.
The Yankees center fielder raced across the outfield grass, made a diving backhanded grab and slid all the way to the warning track as he completed the highlight-reel play.
"I was pleased to cover some ground and make a play on it," Ellsbury said. "That's what you try to do is make plays behind your pitcher, and he pitched great."
CC Sabathia could only hold up his arms and smile as he watched the play, one of several defensive gems the Yankees made behind him in Monday night's 2-1 loss at Comerica Park.
"Unbelievable," Sabathia said. "I got some great defense tonight."
Ellsbury wasn't the first Yankees outfielder to rob Martinez of a hit Monday night.
In the second inning, Martinez sent a fly ball deep to left field, and Brett Gardner made a running grab, spinning and bouncing off the wall.
Gardner showed off his range again in the fifth inning, this time in the opposite direction. Immediately after Ellsbury's grab, Gardner made a diving play in shallow left to steal a hit away from Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez.
The Yankees also turned a season-high three double plays on the night, two of them on ground balls by Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera.
"Tremendous defense tonight. The double plays we got, CC induced a lot of double plays," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We got some really good catches out of Gardy and Ells, and that's why the score was low."
There were two big plays the Yankees didn't make, however, and both came in the Tigers' two-run seventh inning.
With two on and two outs, J.D. Martinez smashed a ground ball that bounced off the glove of a diving Didi Gregorius and into left field, driving in Rajai Davis and tying the game.
"You want to make every play," Gregorius said. "I want to make every play when I go out there. That's how I look at it."
The next batter, Yoenis Cespedes, slapped a single to center. Ellsbury threw to third base to catch J.D. Martinez for the final out of the inning.
But with Victor Martinez chugging from second to home, should Ellsbury have tried to force a play at the plate? Ellsbury and Girardi both said they didn't think it was realistic.
"I don't think he would have had a shot at him at home," Girardi said. "I think Ells took the out and tried to end the inning."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.