NEW YORK -- The crowd came to boo Alex Rodriguez, stuck around to cheer Ivan Nova and was finally stunned by the sight of Mariano Rivera blowing his second save in two games on a long home run by Miguel Cabrera when he and the Yankees were one strike from a much-needed victory.
But the small throng that stuck it out to the bitter end left happy when, after a night of failures with runners in scoring position, Brett Gardner singled with two out and the bases loaded in the 10th for a 4-3 Yankees victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Oh, Mo: Rivera blew his second straight save, surrendering a game-tying home run to the reigning American League MVP with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning with the Yankees on the verge of closing out a 3-1 victory over the Tigers. Mo was not helped when Lyle Overbay failed to catch Cabrera's foul into the stands behind first base on the first pitch. Prince Fielder followed with a double, but after an intentional walk to Victor Martinez, Mo got Andy Dirks to line out softly to short to end the inning.
O-Rod: A-Rod's big night was a washout, an 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, the last one looking at a slider from reliever Bruce Rondon in the eighth. The fans booed him in every at-bat but seemed to be running out of negative energy by the fourth time. Besides, the Yankees were winning -- and a lot of people from the sellout crowd of 46,545 had left.
No neutral parties: Everyone in Yankee Stadium had an opinion on A-Rod's first at-bat, and everyone in the park, it seemed, rose to his or her feet to express it. A roughly 50-50 mixture of strong cheers and strong boos greeted A-Rod as he came to the plate with a runner on second and two out in the first, but, predictably, it changed to 100 percent boos when Rodriguez swung through a Rick Porcello fastball to end the inning. That ratio only increased as the game, and A-Rod's futility at the plate, wore on.
Capt. Hook: Nova's curveball was exceptionally good early in the game, accounting for all four of his K's in the first two innings and enabling him to escape jams in the first and second inning. In all, Nova got six of his seven K's on hooks. It was the sixth straight outing in which Nova went at least seven innings and the fourth in his past five in which he allowed one earned run or less.
RISP reward: Even though the Yankees were just 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, they made both hits count, starting with a third-inning double by Robinson Cano that scored Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki that gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Cano even went to third on the throw home. The bad news is, the next three Yankees -- Alfonso Soriano, A-Rod and Curtis Granderson -- could not get Cano home from third with two strikeouts and a groundout. In retrospect, this would turn out to be a crucial run not scored.
Jam-boree: Nova worked out of a first-inning jam -- created when the first two hitters, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter, singled and Fielder drew a one-out walk -- by striking out Martinez and Dirks to keep Detroit off the board in the first. Nova worked with runners on in each of his first five innings but stranded all nine baserunners before Detroit finally dented him for a run in the seventh.
Left-handed compliment: The Yankees lefties accounted for all 10 of their hits tonight; Gardner had three and scored twice; Ichiro had three and scored once; Cano had the two-RBI double, Granderson singled and Overbay was 2-for-4. The righties were blanked: 0-for-17 with three walks.
Mr. Excitement: The return of A-Rod drew one of the biggest, and probably the loudest, Yankee Stadium crowds of the season despite the team losing six of eight on the coast and falling 11 games behind first in the AL East and seven back of the second wild-card spot.
Ichi-roll: Ichiro had a big night with three singles in five at-bats, a run scored, and a spectacular catch up against the right-field wall on Cabrera's long drive in the third, on which he hit the wall, rolled over and popped up with the ball for the first out of the inning.
Max out: Plate umpire Will Little tossed Tigers starter Max Scherzer out of the game in the seventh, apparently for jockeying from the dugout. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Scherzer wasn't going to pitch tonight anyway.