Crosby's debut uneven as Tigers fall to Yanks

Crosby's debut uneven as Tigers fall to Yanks

Crosby's debut uneven as Tigers fall to Yanks
DETROIT -- The potential was never been in question with Casey Crosby when he has been healthy. But potential doesn't shut down the Yankees.

For several years, Crosby's obstacle was health. Five years after he was one of the gems of the Tigers' 2007 First-Year Player Draft, Crosby made to the big leagues, where the obstacle in his debut was polish. The Yankees made him pay for it with a Curtis Granderson grand slam in his old home in Friday's 9-4 Tigers loss at Comerica Park.

"We talked about it before the game: The Yankees don't swing at pitches that they swing at in Triple-A," manager Jim Leyland said afterward.

Crosby learned a lesson Friday, and Leyland is willing to let him. With Doug Fister sidelined for at least another start, the Tigers don't have much choice. They have to turn to their farm system for help, and Crosby -- raw talent and all -- remains the best option they have right now.

Leyland has a lot of injuries on his mind besides Fister, and a lot of makeshift situations to ponder. Crosby's situation is far from the top of his concerns.

"You just file that one away, run him out there against Cleveland [next Wednesday], and see what he does," Leyland said. "The equipment's there. We asked a lot of the kid tonight, but we've been forced this year into a lot of different situations. We just have to battle it."

Crosby battled. For a brief stretch, the sellout crowd of 41,831 at Comerica Park saw the potential the Tigers saw in Crosby when they lured him away from football. He flashed the potential of the hard-throwing left-hander that the Tigers saw when he made an impression this past Spring Training, with the size that earned him the nickname of CC from the kids back home in suburban Chicago.

Until a couple of days ago, Crosby was slated to pitch Thursday for Triple-A Toledo. He had fanned 16 batters in 15 innings over his previous two starts for the Mud Hens, walking only one. Fister's injury forced the Tigers to change on the fly.

Crosby gave up a leadoff single to Derek Jeter on Friday, a fact that forced him to pause and soak it in briefly, then racked up called third strikes on Granderson with a fastball and Alex Rodriguez with an offspeed pitch.

After Quintin Berry tripled and scored to give the Tigers the lead in the first, Crosby had a lead to work with. He did not, however, have his breaking ball. Like most young starters, energy worked against him.

"I really couldn't throw my breaking ball for a strike today," he said. "In Toledo, I was throwing a lot of offspeed for strikes, and when I'm not throwing my breaking balls for strikes, they just spit on it the whole time and sit fastball."

He fooled the Yankees for a while without his breaking ball. Come the second inning, he wasn't locating much of anything, throwing seven consecutive balls on his way to walking three of New York's first four batters and loading the bases with one out.

Crosby got Chris Stewart to fly out on his first pitch to take away the sacrifice-fly opportunity, but he had the top of the Yankees' lineup coming back around. After he used a good change of speeds to put Jeter in a 1-2 count, he was a strike away from surviving.

Crosby tried to hit the inside corner with that breaking ball, and missed, but at least he missed in to avoid damage. He went back to the fastball and tried to pound Jeter inside, but missed twice more. With that, Robinson Cano had rounded the bases without the Yankees moving him on a ball in play.

"It just kind of got away from me," Crosby said. "I was getting too excited. One walk led to two walks, and I never really could get my composure back. It's all about just forgetting about the past and looking at the pitch ahead."

It lingered into the crushing blow from Granderson. With a groundout, Crosby could've walked back into the dugout with a tie game. But with no faith in his other stuff, the left-hander went at Granderson with fastballs.

Detroit's former All-Star center fielder took the first two. He didn't miss the third.

"He came after me the first at-bat with fastballs, and I wasn't able to catch up to it, so I figured they'd probably stay with it," Granderson said.

Granderson once hit a grand slam against the Yankees at Comerica Park in 2009, his final season as a Tiger. He had a grand slam in each of his first two seasons in Yankee pinstripes. Crosby's fastball gave him his first grand slam for 2012.

Jayson Nix's double and run with one out in the fourth inning ended Crosby's night. He gave up six runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

"When you bring somebody up, you're prepared for anything as a manager," Leyland said. "And I was prepared for exactly what happened tonight. I was also prepared for if he gets on a roll and gets some confidence going, he might shut them down pretty good. That's just the way it happened."

That was a big boost for CC Sabathia (7-2), who had lost his last four starts in Detroit since 2007 thanks in part to six home runs. He gave up a Ramon Santiago homer leading off the third inning, and a two-out RBI single to Prince Fielder, but settled in from there to finish with seven quality innings.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.