Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, left, discusses a ruling with umpire Gerry Davis during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Detroit Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
DETROIT — It was 33 degrees for the start at Comerica Park, and that turned out to be perfect conditions for the pitchers.
Masahiro Tanaka and the New York bullpen combined on a three-hitter Thursday as the Yankees stopped the Detroit Tigers 2-1.
Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers staff did fine, too, also allowing a total of three hits.
The day before, the Yankees romped 13-4 after taking a big lead in the first inning while snow flurries fell.
"When you win six of seven, a lot of it has to do with your starting pitching," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They are holding teams down late into games and letting us get into the bullpen. From there, if you get a few timely hits, you win the game."
Jacoby Ellsbury began the eighth with a double off Tom Gorzelanny (0-1), took third on Brett Gardner's sacrifice bunt and scored on Brian McCann's groundout for the go-ahead run. The Yankees are now a season-best two games over .500.
Tanaka, who grew up in northern Japan, gave up one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six.
"It was pretty cold out there," he said through a translator. "I spent my high school years in a really cold area, so as I was pitching, I was remembering those days."
Dellin Betances (3-0) picked up the win with 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Andrew Miller pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
"I don't think the cold weather helps anyone," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "I'd bet that scoring is down in April across the board as opposed to the rest of the year."
Sanchez allowed one run on one hit and four walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight. While his control wasn't great, it was a major improvement on his previous two starts, where he allowed 14 runs in 9 2/3 innings.
Detroit took the lead in the first inning on Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly, but the Yankees tied the game in the sixth on a strange play.
With a runner on third and two outs, Ellsbury bluffed toward home. Sanchez stepped off the rubber and threw home as Ellsbury retreated. None of the umpires made an immediate call, but after several Yankees visibly protested, third base umpire Gerry Davis called a balk.
"He started his delivery and then stepped off the rubber to throw home," Davis said. "I took a couple seconds to process what I saw. I wanted to be sure he had started his delivery before I made the call."
Ausmus came out to argue and was ejected by Davis, but acknowledged after the game that the call had been correct.
"It wasn't smooth, in terms of the timing, but Gerry got it right, so you can't really argue," he said.
The Yankees threatened again in the seventh, chasing Sanchez, but Gorzelanny got out of the inning with runners on first and second. The Tigers also had a chance in their half of the inning, but Chase Headley saved a run with a diving stop at third.
Yankees: DH Alex Rodriguez, who was 1 for 11 in the first three games of the series, got a scheduled rest day. Rodriguez had started 14 of New York's 15 games and pinch hit in the 15th.
Tigers: RHP Joe Nathan will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament and the flexor pronator tendon in his pitching arm. The 40-year-old is expected to be sidelined for much of the 2016 season as well, but said Thursday that he hopes to continue his career.
Yankees: Michael Pineda (2-0) faces Jacob deGrom (2-1) in the first game of a three-game home series against the Mets. The Yankees have lost the last four games between the teams at Yankee Stadium. The Mets have won a team record-tying 11 in a row.
Tigers: AL ERA leader Shane Greene (3-0, 0.39) goes against Danny Salazar (1-0, 3.00) to start a three-game home series against Cleveland. Detroit swept the Indians in a three-game series at Progressive Field from April 10-12.