NEW YORK — The New York Yankees dropped the first game of the American League Championship Series in a dramatic 12 inning game to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night. In the process the Yankees lost the heart of the team when the Captain, Derek Jeter, had to leave the game with a fractured ankle. Jeter will need three months to recover from the injury, leaving him on the sidelines for the rest of the playoffs. This will be the first time Jeter has missed a playoff start since his rookie year in 1996.
The Yankees were down 4-0 heading into the ninth inning in the first game of the seven game ALCS. The Tigers called in struggling closer Jose Valverde to put the game to bed. The closer met with cheers, only the cheers were from New York fans as Valverde served up a pair of two run home runs to tie the game up and send it to extra innings. The Yankees were not able to capitalize on yet another Raul Ibanez game saving home run, stranding bases loaded three times and not scoring another run.
Detroit managed to plate two runs in the 12th after Nick Swicher lost a game winning double in the outfield lights and watched the the winning runs score.
Detroit turned to reliever Drew Smyly to put the Yankees to sleep. Smyly sent the Yankees packing up their gear for game two with a 1-2-3 inning.
Smyly said after the game:
“They did a great job of making a comeback. I think we did an even better job of staying strong and fighting,” Or as Octavio Dotel said, expressing the prevailing sentiment in the clubhouse, “Today was a tough game, but thank God we won.”
Detroit manager Jim Leyland, has to decide is the Tigers are going to feel comfortable going to Valverde for the rest of the playoffs as the closer has had two major meltdowns in a row almost costing them the season in the first round of the playoffs and almost costing them the game in the Bronx.
“We are going to put our heads together and we’ll talk with him. We will talk with the staff and try to figure out if there is something going on that maybe is being camouflaged. … And everything will be cleared up for everybody by the time I come in here before the game tomorrow. I didn’t know we had to take that many, but we have been taking punches all year. If we are going to be good enough, we have to be able to take a punch, and we took a big punch. We took a right cross in the ninth inning and we survived it.”
Tonight the Yankees are sending Hiroki Kuroda up against Anibal Sanchez in game 2.