Game 1 of the American League Championship Series was a game of lost opportunities, a wicked roller coaster ride and while losing the game is important, the New York Yankees also lost their captain, Derek Jeter to a fractured left ankle.
Jeter was carried off the field in the twelfth inning after landing awkwardly on his already injured left ankle while diving for a grounder. This was just three innings after the Yankees staged a dramatic four-run comeback to tie the game in the ninth. The Tigers ultimately won 6-4.
The Yankees had numerous opportunities early on to make the end result a possible non-event. The Yanks had the bases loaded in the first and second innings against Tigers starter Doug Fister and he squelched the threat each time with some help from his shortstop Jhonny Peralta. In the first Peralta made a terrific play to end the inning and then did the same off a comebacker that got Fister in the wrist deflecting back to him and he retired Robinson Cano, though replays showed Cano beat the throw.
Then in the bottom of the sixth, after the Tigers plated two against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, the Yankees had the first two batters reached base, Mark Teixeira on an error and a Raul Ibanez double. But, Fister struck out Alex Rodriguez, and then dealt Nick Swisher a walk to load the bases yet again. And for the third time Fister got out of it by striking out Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin.
Pettitte finished with 6 2/3 innings scattering seven hits, three walks and struck out five. He had one bad inning and when there is no run support to speak of, the loss cannot be blamed on the 40-year-old southpaw.
Fister may have looked like Houdini, but in truth just made the big pitches when he had to especially in the sixth. He finished with 6 1/2 IP with no runs, six hits and four walks. Fister struck out five.
The Tigers added two insurance runs in the top of the eighth that at the time they seemingly didn’t need on a Delmon Young solo homer and a RBI-single from Avisail Garcia. Young continues to slaughter Yankees postseason pitching with two more hits. In the 2011 ALDS Young went 6-for-19 with three home runs. The runs proved to be huge for the Tigers.
The Yankees entered the ninth down 4-0 with Tigers closer Jose Valverde in to secure the victory. Martin singled, Jeter struck out and Ichiro Suzuki launched a line drive into the right field seats cutting the lead in half. Valverde struck out Cano and then got ahead of Teixeira 0-2, but Tex worked the count all the way back and walked. In something out of a storybook, up stepped Ibanez, who single-handily won Game 3 of the ALDS with two homers, and he did it again with a high drive into the bleachers in left field to tie the game at 4.
Rafael Soriano worked a 1-2-3 tenth. In the Yankees half, Octavio Dotel continued to work for the Tigers. He got Swisher to fly out and then walked Granderson. Brett Gardner came in to run for Granderson and promptly stole second. Martin flew out to center field for the second out. Jeter flew out to right to end the inning.
David Robertson retired the Tigers without allowing a run in the eleventh and kept Miguel Cabrera from getting an at-bat. In the bottom half of the inning Ichiro led off with a single to center. He was unable to steal second and Cano, Teixeira and Ibanez all flew out as the game headed to the 12th.
David Phelps entered the game and faced Cabrera to lead off the frame. Phelps tried to work both sides of the plate but ultimately walked the Triple Crown winner. Fielder hit a weak grounder to first but it did the job and got Cabrera to scoring position. Yankee killer Young stepped up and ripped a liner to right field that Swisher seemed to have a chance at but misplayed giving the Tigers the lead.
The damage was done on the scoreboard but possibly the worst result of the night came on the next play. Peralta hit a grounder to short that Jeter got to but fell awkwardly on his injured left ankle. Jeter was writhing in pain on the ground and was ultimately helped off the field without applying any pressure on his foot. Jeter is looking at a three-month recovery time, but the fracture is not seen to be career ending.
The Tigers would get one more run after The Captain departed and Drew Smyly finished off his second scoreless inning to notch the win.