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Chess Match: Yanks halt Tigers early

Chess Match: Yanks halt Tigers early

NEW YORK -- When the game was up for grabs early on, the Tigers couldn't get the timely hits on offense or the crucial outs on defense. The Yankees took control for an 8-4 win, but Game 1 had its share of interesting decisions for both managers.

Miss and run
The situation: Thanks to a double by Magglio Ordonez and a walk to Carlos Guillen, the Tigers had runners on first and second with nobody out in the top of the second.

The decision: Manager Jim Leyland, in an effort to generate some early momentum, called for a hit-and-run with Ivan Rodriguez at the plate.

The outcome: Rodriguez swung right through the pitch, and Ordonez was tagged out at third on a perfect throw by Jorge Posada and a nice tag by Alex Rodriguez. Leyland called it the best sinker Chien-Ming Wang threw all night. The out seemed to deflate the Tigers, who finished the promising inning without a run.

Leyland stood by his decision after the game. He just wishes Wang would have left the ball in a more hittable spot for Rodriguez. As polished a hitter as Rodriguez is, it was reasonable to expect he could, at the very least, foul the pitch off.

No relief
The situation: Starter Nate Robertson had done a nice job of settling down after a five-run third inning, but the Yankees, again with the top of the order putting the rally in motion, had Robertson on the ropes in the sixth.

The decision: Leyland, instead of going to a reliever such as hard-throwing Joel Zumaya, elected to keep Robertson in the game.

The outcome: After Johnny Damon led off with a single and Derek Jeter doubled him to third, Bobby Abreu delivered a back-breaking two-run single against Robertson. Leyland said that he would not have brought in a right-hander to face Abreu and felt Robertson was his best option from the left side. In hindsight, however, a fresher arm might have been more effective.

Quick hook
The situation: Wang retired the first two batters of the seventh and was cruising.

The decision: Yankees manager Joe Torre opted to take Wang out of the game at that point to set up the lefty-lefty matchup of Mike Myers and Curtis Granderson.

The outcome: Granderson took Myers deep. "That was a great piece of managing," quipped Torre.

If anything, Torre overmanaged in that spot. Wang had thrown just 93 pitches and seemed like a safe choice to get out of the inning. As it was, Scott Proctor came in after the Granderson homer and gave up two hits before wiggling out of trouble. By sticking with Wang, Torre could have stayed away from Proctor altogether and had a fresher bullpen for Game 2.

Ian Browne 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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