NEW YORK -- Justin Verlander watched from the edge of the mound with his hands on his knees, and dropped his head down as the ball sailed beyond the center-field wall.
Verlander shook off his catcher Bryan Holaday, and elected to throw a fastball high and away to Brian McCann in the seventh inning of a tie game. He did not miss his spot by much, but enough for McCann to belt a go-ahead home run that helped the Yankees deal the Tigers a 5-1 loss on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
"You throw the right pitch with conviction is better than the wrong pitch without it and that's the pitch I wanted to throw," Verlander said. "Now looking back at it, it's easy to second guess."
The Yankees added three insurance runs in the eighth inning, aided by a miscue from the Tigers' defense that all but put the game out of reach.
Verlander has not been the dominant pitcher this season that the Tigers had become accustomed to. He had allowed the most earned runs in the Majors entering Wednesday's game and was handed his 10th loss of the year in this one, but he was not to blame.
It was the Tigers' offense which scuffled against Chris Capuano, the 35-year old journeyman left-hander who was pitching in the Minors before being sold to the Yankees a couple of weeks ago. He held the Tigers to one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and striking out eight.
"Tonight was as bad as we've been offensively, I think, really all year," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Again, Chris Capuano did an excellent job, but the first seven innings of the game, we didn't seem to make many adjustments."
Detroit pushed across an unearned run in the first. Rajai Davis reached on an error by Derek Jeter to start the game and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from Miguel Cabrera.
Then, the Tigers went silent at the plate until back-to-back singles in the seventh finally knocked Capuano out of the game.
"They got a dangerous lineup over there, a really good lineup," Capuano said. "And you have to try to get ahead and put them on the defensive. You've just got to try to make your pitches and slow the game down as best you can."
With runners at the corners, Adam Warren (2-5) forced Davis into a harmless bouncer to second base to end the threat.
The Tigers (62-49) threatened again in the eighth. Cabrera walked and a double error by Stephen Drew allowed Victor Martinez to reach first on the fielding error and a throwing error allowed Cabrera to advance the third. But Warren promptly retired the next two hitters to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Verlander cruised for much of the game. He retired the first 11 batters he faced until Jacoby Ellsbury's single in the fourth inning, and he did not allow a run until Chase Headley's solo homer in the fifth to tie the game at 1.
Verlander had struggled in his career against the Yankees in the Bronx. In his previous five starts here before this one, he was 0-2 with a 4.65 ERA. But on Wednesday, Verlander allowed five hits and struck out five in seven innings. But two of the five hits he surrendered were home runs and it made the difference in the game. Both the right-hander and Ausmus said his curveball was the best it had been at any point this season.
"I feel like if I can pitch like that moving forward there's going to be a whole lot of positive outcomes to come," Verlander said.
The Tigers became the first team in history to start three different American League Cy Young Award winners in as many nights. Even though each of them turned in strong performances, the Yankees (59-54) beat two of them, Verlander and Max Scherzer on Monday.
"I think if we have performances like that every time they take the mound, we'll be in great shape," Ausmus said.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.