The Tigers ace allowed just four hits and struck out four in 6.2 scoreless innings as he outdueled CC Sabathia, who was touched up for six runs on nine hits in six frames.
New York's offense has gone silent over the past week. Outside of a six-run ninth on Wednesday, the Bombers have scored just nine runs in their last five games, losing four of them.
Is it injuries, an expected slump, or the wrong people being slotted in the lineup?
Let's take a look at the grades from the series finale at Comerica Park.
Joe Girardi, Manager: (C-) The bottom third of the Yanks' order on Thursday resembled a Spring Training lineup. Juan Miranda, who was making his season debut after 19 career at-bats the previous two years, hit seventh; Randy Winn, who entered the game batting .219, hit eighth; and Greg Golson, who picked up his first big league hit on Wednesday, hit ninth.
Part of the problem is injuries: Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson are both on the disabled list (although neither of them were exactly tearing the cover off the ball when they were healthy). And Nick Swisher sat out due to soreness in his bicep.
I don't have a huge problem giving Swisher a day to rest because he's 7-for-38 (.184) with 14 strikeouts in his career against Verlander anyway, but starting Miranda, Winn and Golson on the same day against the Tigers' best pitcher gave the Yanks very little chance to score runs.
I thought Francisco Cervelli (.408 average, .276 vs. RHP), Marcus Thames (.341 average, although he does hit only .231 vs. RHP) or Ramiro Pena (2-for-3 vs. Verlander) would've all been better starts than Miranda and Golson.
Most importantly, the Yankees need to figure out a way to get Cervelli into the lineup more, especially with Granderson and Johnson out. They should call up a third catcher, so Cervelli and Posada can DH when they are not catching and there's no risk to running out of catchers in case one of them gets hurt. This is a more valuable position to have on the roster than a fifth outfielder (Golson) or a sixth infielder (Miranda).
Derek Jeter, SS: (C-) The captain continued his recent slide by going 1-for-4 with a strikeout. He is now 8-for-51 (.157) in May, or as I like to call it, the anti-Teixeira.
Brett Gardner, CF: (D) I love Gardner in the No. 2 hole and hope he remains there even after Johnson returns, but the center fielder had a rough game on Thursday, going 1-for-5 to drop to 5 for his last 20 (.250).
Mark Teixeira, DH: (D+) A lifetime .366 hitter as a DH, Teixeira went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B: (D) A-Rod wasn't very patient at the plate, seeing just eight pitches en route to an 0-for-4 performance, but he did make a nice spinning play on a Magglio Ordonez grounder in the first.
Robinson Cano, 2B: (D+) Cano was 0-for-3 with a walk to drop to 5-for-28 (.179) since May 5.
Jorge Posada, DH: (A-) Posada was the only Yankees batter to pick up two hits or an extra-base knock, but in typical Posada fashion, he had a passed ball and let another pitch bounce off his glove when no one was on base.
Sabathia has a 2.50 ERA in 36 innings pitching to Cervelli. He has a 6.23 ERA in 17 1/3 innings with Posada.
New York would be best served with Cervelli catching three out of every five games, and Posada catching the other two, with both of them in the lineup at least as the DH every day.
Juan Miranda, 1B: (D+) Miranda was 0-for-3 with a walk.
Randy Winn, LF-RF: (C) I'll give credit to Winn for fouling off a lot of pitches against Verlander and working up his pitch count, so that he had to exit in the seventh. However, the Yankees couldn't do anything against the Tigers' bullpen either. Winn saw 28 pitches in four plate appearances.
Greg Golson, RF: (F) I imagine I'd look exactly the same as Golson did facing those first two breaking balls from Verlander in the second inning. Then again, I'm not a Major Leaguer.
Marcus Thames, PH-LF: (C+) Despite his poor batting average against right-handers, Thames did work a walk against Verlander in the seventh before striking out against Joel Zumaya in the ninth.
CC Sabathia, SP: (F) The big lefty turned in his worst start of the season and was really done in by back-to-back homers by Miguel Cabrera and Brennan Boesch in the fourth.
Ivan Nova, RP: (A) The one bright spot in this game was the Major League debut of Nova, who struck out one and allowed just two hits in a pair of scoreless innings. But much like Romulo Sanchez, who pitched a solid 3.2 innings the other day, Nova should be headed back to Triple-A shortly.
Yankees Overall Grade: (F) The Bombers managed just four hits, going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranding 11 baserunners. It was only their second lost series of the season, though, and those have both come on the road against teams that will be in the hunt for the playoffs. The Yankees face four different teams over the next eight days, all without leaving New York City.
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Jordan Schwartz is one of Bleacher Report's New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.
Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org