Yankee Stadium—After each successfully completing five game series to win the ALDS, the Yankees and Tigers engaged in the opener of the ALCS on Saturday night. As in the previous post-season play this year, the starting pitchers on both clubs dominated the hitters.
Veteran Andy Pettitte, one of only six major leaguers in history to play in the post-season when younger than 24 and older than 40, did his usual impressive job. In only one inning did he allow more than one runner to reach base.
The sixth frame was the one in which the first runs of the game were scored. Austin Jackson, a former Yankee prospect, tripled to lead off the inning. Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera was walked intentionally. The gambit did not work as singles by the next two Detroit batters, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young each knocked in a run.
Pettitte left the game after 6.2 innings having given up those two runs and seven hits.
Two more runs were scored by Detroit in the eighth off reliever Derek Lowe. The first was on a home run by Delmon Young.
Doug Fister, the winner of the final game over the Yankees in the 2011 ALDS, blanked the Yanks in 6.1 innings. He surrendered six hits and walked three batters, but none resulted in a run.
In the first, second and sixth innings, the Yanks threatened, left the bases loaded, but could not score. Fister walked three in the first, but Alex Rodriguez ended the inning with a ground out. Three Yankees, Russell Martin, Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki, singled, but the inning concluded as Robinson Cano grounded out. An error, a double by Raúl Ibañez and a walk to Nick Swisher filled the sacks in the sixth, but Curtis Granderson and Martin fanned to end the frame.
Game #1 was the first post-season game in the lengthy history of the franchise that the Yankees left the bases loaded three times in a single game.
Fister was removed after 6.1 innings having given up six hits and four walks, but most importantly, no runs.
The relief corps did not have the same success as the starters. Detroit closer Jose Valverde failed to close out the contest in the ninth. Two home runs tied the score. Martin singled and was driven in by a homer to right by Suzuki. The veteran from Japan was the batting star of the Yanks with four by hits. With two out, Mark Teixeira drew a walk and scored on a two-run homer by the usual suspect as hero Raúl Ibañez.
The score remained knotted until the twelfth. With David Phelps on the bump, Cabrera walked to begin the frame, but three other Tigers hit successfully to score two runs.
The loss of the game was not the worst loss the Yanks suffered in the game. Jeter fielded a ground ball by Jhonny Peralta, fell, rolled over and could not rise to his feet without assistance.
Manager Joe Girardi told a hushed group of reporters, “His [left] ankle is fractured. He’s out. He will not play for us anymore this year. They’re talking about a three month recovery period. It will not threaten his career. It’s a pretty emotional jolt. “
How much will the loss of the Yankee captain hinder the chances of the Yanks to win four of the next six contests. If they do not obtain those victories, the Yanks will be the losers of the three post-season series played between the two clubs since 2006.
Hiroki Kuroda, on three days of rest, will start the second game for the Yanks and righty Anibal Sanchez will start for Detroit.