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Igawa no better than Kennedy in debut

Igawa no better than Kennedy in debut

DETROIT -- Perhaps Kei Igawa should have taken it as a sign of things to come when his fourth pitch of Friday's game rocketed back up the middle, ricocheting off of his left buttock.

To his credit, Igawa scrambled and recovered the ball for an unusual first-inning putout, but that was about the only high point of his start. The left-hander was hit hard and exited early, and the Tigers withstood a three-run ninth inning to secure a 6-5 victory over the Yankees at Comerica Park.

Recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start in place of demoted righty Ian Kennedy, Igawa was not an improvement, recording just two swinging strikes among the 64 pitches he threw over three-plus innings.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Igawa was operating basically with one pitch, his fastball, unable to control any of his offspeed pitches. That was bad news given Detroit's threatening lineup, which -- along with some shaky New York defense -- contributed to Igawa's short evening.

"He should be able to make the adjustment," Girardi said. "We're not talking about a kid who hasn't pitched a whole lot. He's been pitching for a long time. He needs to find a way to make that adjustment."

Girardi said that the Yankees are scheduled to start Igawa again on Wednesday against the Rays in St. Petersburg, but there appears to be some wiggle room with that assignment.

"I saw some good things, but we need to correct the offspeed [pitches]," Girardi said. "You can't go out there with one pitch. Mariano Rivera is able to do it, but he's one of the few."

"I will be ready," Igawa said. "It's just a matter of their decision."

Speaking through an interpreter, Igawa said that he thought his offspeed pitches were "pretty good," contrasting Girardi's opinion. Saying that he is not a ground-ball pitcher, Igawa noted, "They were able to hit a lot of ground balls through the holes."

"The result is part of baseball," Igawa said. "It could happen any day or any time. The next thing I would like to work on is getting more strikeouts with all of my pitches."

Catcher Chad Moeller, who caught Igawa at Triple-A during the early part of his 3-3, 3.86 ERA International League campaign, leaned more toward the manager's assessment.

"[The difference was] location on the fastball," Moeller said. "He was up a lot more tonight, and his offspeed pitches also stayed up. There just wasn't a lot of depth consistently on his breaking ball. It was definitely different than it was the first few games I saw him at Scranton."

Ivan Rodriguez stroked a leadoff double and scored on Carlos Guillen's sacrifice fly for Detroit's first run, and the Tigers added three runs off Igawa in the third, with Wilson Betemit's defensive troubles at third base prolonging the inning.

Betemit missed four balls -- two backhanded, one forehanded and one barehanded -- as Detroit sent eight men to the plate, scoring on Rodriguez's RBI double, Magglio Ordonez's single and a Gary Sheffield two-base hit. Betemit would also be later charged with an error.

"I think we're capable of making those plays, and for whatever reason, we didn't tonight," Girardi said. "When you give a team like the Tigers extra outs and extra opportunities, they're going to hurt you."

Igawa faced four batters without recording an out in the fourth, allowing singles to each. Rodriguez and Polanco came through with the run-scoring hits, driving in Marcus Thames and Ryan Raburn. That brought on Jonathan Albaladejo, who threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings before leaving the game -- with a stint on the disabled list imminent -- with right elbow discomfort.

The loss dropped the Yankees back below .500 at 18-19. Jason Giambi supplied most of what the Yankees would manage against left-hander Kenny Rogers, turning on his seventh home run in the second inning for a solo shot.

The homer was Giambi's 184th as a Yankee, moving him past Tommy Henrich and tying him with Charlie Keller for 16th place on the club's all-time list. The long-slumping Robinson Cano also had a strong night, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, including a double that chased Rogers with no outs in the seventh inning.

"They're doing what they're capable of," Girardi said of Giambi and Cano. "For the most part, they've had good at-bats all year. Every hitter is going to run into a bad at-bat once in a while. But their at-bats continue to be good, they continue to work, and recently, it's begun to pay off."

Rogers was charged with two runs on nine hits, and he walked two and struck out three. The Yankees rallied to put the tying run on second base against a shaky Todd Jones in the ninth, sending eight men to the plate in a frame that featured two Jones wild pitches.

With New York closing the gap to one run and first base open, the Tigers elected to walk Hideki Matsui intentionally -- thus ending Matsui's 17-game hitting streak -- and instead go after rookie Shelley Duncan. Duncan smashed a hard liner to center field, but Curtis Granderson raced in to snag it easily for the final out.

Matsui said that his only hope for the inning was for Duncan to get a hit, putting aside his own career-high hit string.

"Honestly, I didn't really pay that much attention to it," Matsui said. "It's certainly disappointing that I couldn't hit today. You just have to look forward to tomorrow."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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