Bird had never faced Alcantara, and Stanton was 1-for-2 with a double against him in his career, so Bard’s criterion seemed to be based solely on the fact that Bird is a left-handed batter and Alcantara is a right-handed pitcher. And Bard’s counterpart in the Tigers’ dugout, Ron Gardenhire, seemed to have anticipated the move. He had the left-hander Danial Stumpf warming up, but he rolled the dice on sticking with Alcantara despite the pitcher’s recent struggles.
“I wasn’t bringing in a left-hander to let them pinch-hit him,” Gardenhire said, referring to Stanton. “I figured if I did, he would come walking out. I don’t really think it matters left or right, but I wasn’t going to serve it up to them.”
Bard then made another questionable call by bringing in Stephen Tarpley, a rookie left-hander making his major league debut, to pitch the ninth.
Tarpley allowed three runs, three hits and two walks, which meant that by the time the Yankees came to bat in the bottom of the ninth, they were facing an 11-5 deficit. Their mini-rally, in which they scored two runs on Gleyber Torres’s single, was not nearly enough.
Bird, who has seemingly lost the first base job to Voit, said he was disappointed but not entirely surprised by the outcome of his at-bat.
“I knew I had a good swing, but I also knew I didn’t get it, get it,” he said. “I knew it would be close. Hell yeah, I’m thinking I want it to go over the fence.”
That the Yankees even made a fight of it was something of a surprise, because starter Lance Lynn, staked to a 2-1 lead, came apart in the fourth inning, allowing four runs and four hard hits, including Reyes’s second R.B.I. double and a two-run double by Jacoby Jones. In the same inning, reliever Tommy Kahnle allowed a home run by Nicholas Castellanos on the first pitch he threw. Sonny Gray surrendered Reyes’s home run in the sixth.