If not for Yankee captain Derek Jeter’s season-ending broken ankle in the 12th inning Saturday night, the focus would be on the Detroit Tigers pulling out a late 6-4 win in Game 1, and New York rallying in the ninth inning to force extras.
The Yankees now take the field in Game 2 of the American League Championship series Sunday afternoon with Jeter out, and Detroit more confident in its ability to produce timely runs.
The 38-year-old Jeter fractured his left ankle while charging a sharp grounder by Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta and fell to the infield dirt in pain after flipping the ball to second. The expected recovery time is three months, and 30-year-old Jayson Nix will start in Jeter's place in Game 2.
Up until that point the Yankees seemed poised to pull out a victory after being down 4-0 late. New York rallied in the ninth inning with four runs to tie the game, capped by Raul Ibanez’s two-run home run and a solo shot by outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
Detroit won with a two runs in the 12th after Delmon Young doubled in Miguel Cabrera, and Andy Dirks singled to score Peralta, and the Yankees failed to respond in the bottom of the inning.
Like in the ALDS New York is still stranding runners, going 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position in Game 1.
Tigers’ starter Doug Fister scattered six hits with no earned runs and five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings, and handed the game over to the bullpen. Closer Jose Valverde gave the Yankees hope with all four of their runs coming against him.
Valverde will not pitch in Game 2, but according to Detroit manager Jim Leyland he is still listed as the team's closer.
Andy Pettitte went one out longer than Fister, but Detroit earned two runs and three walks off the veteran. Derek Lowe relieved Pettite, but surrendered two more runs before New York could stop the bleeding.
The Yankees hope for a better result with Hiroki Kuroda taking the mound. Earning a no decision in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles, Kuroda went 8 1/3 innings giving up two homeruns, but New York won in the bottom of the 12th thanks to an Ibanez homerun.
Anibal Sanchez lost his Game 3 start to the Oakland Athletics, pitching 6 1/3 innings with two earned runs and three strikeouts, in the only postseason game so far when the Tigers were shutout.
Prediction: The loss of Jeter will impact the Yankees psyche and offense, as he was their leading hitter in the postseason. The Tigers will take advantage of a weakened New York and head back to Detroit with a 2-0 lead.
Predicted Score: Detroit 5, New York 2