DETROIT (AP) -- One year after being the butt of jokes for their
futility, it's tough to make fun of the Detroit Tigers.
Detroit (44-47) set an AL record for losses last year by going
43-119, a loss shy of baseball's post-1900 record for setbacks.
"It's fun when you can crush somebody and land your punches, to
use a boxing analogy," said Pena, who was 3-for-3, including a
The Tigers easily set a record for fewest games needed to
surpass their wins total from the previous year, according to the
Elias Sports Bureau. The previous mark of 106 was set by the 1962
Philadelphia Phillies (48-58 after going 47-107) and the 1989
Baltimore Orioles (55-51 following a 54-107 season).
"I'm not going to go celebrate," Detroit manager Alan Trammell
Many questioned Ivan Rodriguez for signing a $40 million,
four-year contract with the lowly Tigers after helping Florida win
the World Series. Some laughed when the star catcher later said he
was going to help Detroit make the playoffs, for the first time
Even if the Tigers don't win the AL Central, they have moved
forward by playing relatively meaningful games in July.
"It is a big deal. We are playing for something," said
Rodriguez, leading the league with a .364 batting average. "We are
trying to make the playoffs, and we can if we keep playing the way
we are right now."
The Tigers split the four-game series against the Yankees and
won the season series from the AL champions 4-3.
"They're certainly 100 percent better than last year," Yankees
manager Joe Torre said. "And I give Trammell the credit for
keeping it together."
Robertson (9-4) allowed two runs and six hits in eight innings.
In his last 11 starts, Robertson's only loss was on July 5 on the
road against the Yankees, when he gave up seven runs in just 1 2-3
"With the lineup we have and the players we brought over,
people are still going to ask, `Who is Nate Robertson?' " the
26-year-old left-hander said. "That's just fine with me."
Ugueth Urbina allowed a leadoff double to Derek Jeter in the
ninth, then finished for his 15th save in 17 chances. He struck out
Gary Sheffield, retired Alex Rodriguez on a flyout and then, with
the sellout crowd of 40,132 on its feet, fanned Ruben Sierra.
Jon Lieber (7-6), coming off consecutive wins, gave up four runs
and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings.
"I've got to make some better pitches, especially early in the
game," Lieber said. "It's been that way all year. I've been
digging myself holes."
In the first inning, Carlos Guillen hit his ninth triple, third
in the AL, and scored on Rodriguez's sacrifice fly. The Tigers went
ahead 3-0 in the second on Marcus Thames' RBI double and Brandon
Inge's sacrifice fly.
After Sierra's two-run homer pulled New York to 3-2 in the
fourth, Pena hit his 12th homer of the season in the seventh.
"I like the feel around here," Trammell said. "Guys are
playing with confidence. Who knows what might happen the next few
"We've certainly made progress, but we have to carry this
Yankees RHP Kevin Brown, who hasn't pitched since June 9
because of a back injury, threw 60 pitches in the bullpen before
the game and is scheduled to make a rehab appearance Tuesday. ...
Torre said his other ailing starter, RHP Mike Mussina, will not
throw for five days to rest his stiff right elbow. ... Robertson,
who pitched in his 34th career game, was acquired from Florida
before the 2003 season in the Mark Redman trade. He was 1-2 last
year in Detroit, and 9-7 at Triple-A Toledo... New York's Bernie
Williams had a single in the seventh, ending his longest hitless
streak at 23 at-bats. ... New York is 10-12 at Detroit since 2000,
when the Tigers moved to Comerica Park. Detroit sold out three
straight home games for the first time in three years. ...
Detroit's Bobby Higginson was removed from the lineup because of an
irritated left eye. ... Torre turned 64. ... Sierra became the
ninth Yankee with 10 or more homers.