For the Yankees, Game One of the ALCS, went from regrettable, to unbelievable, to unforgettable in the worst way.
In the first inning the Yankees loaded the bases against Doug Fister and Alex Rodriguez hit a hard ground ball that was speared by Jhonny Peralta who threw to second just in time to get the force out to end the inning. For Rodriguez, it was more bad luck. Then in the second, Robinson Cano came to bat with two outs and the bases loaded. He hit a line drive up the middle that knocked off Fister’s hand and went high in the air. Peralta fielded it with one hand, threw to first and Cano was called out though the replays showed that he was safe. Right, bad luck.
The Tigers scored a couple of runs against Andy Pettitte in the top of the sixth and in the bottom of the inning Mark Teixeira reached on a single and moved to third on a double by Raul Ibanez. Rodriguez took a curve for a strike, fouled off a fastball that was his pitch to hit and then hacked at a curve ball out of the strike zone for the first out. Nick Swisher laid off a tough curve on a 2-2 pitch and eventually walked. But Curtis Granderson whiffed on three pitches and so did Russell Martin.
No bad luck this time, just the brand of offensive offense we’ve gotten used to around these parts. All three outs were made on undisciplined at bats.
And so we Yankee fans spent the next few innings cursing and muttering and what difference did it make when Delmon Young hit a seed for a line drive home run or when the Tigers added another one to make it 4-0?
Emily and I watched this misery in the living room of our friends’ apartment in midtown. They’ve got kids and were fading fast in the eighth so we excused ourselves and got in the car by the time the Yanks came to bat in the bottom of the ninth. As we made our way from the east side to the west side–no, taking the FDR uptown when there is a game on–I just hoped the game could continue for as long as possible.
So it was John Sterling that guided us west and I gave a solemn fist pump when he told us that Ichiro hit a two run home run. Cano was next and he worked the count full–please, get on base, Robbie–but struck out. One last out and Teixeira came up as we crossed over Sixth Avenue. He quickly fell behind 0-2 but worked the count full and then drew a walk.
Ibanez. Sterling asked if we could possibly demand more from him? “Sure, we can,” I said. And on the 0-1 pitch, I turned off 9th Ave onto 43rd Street when Sterling went into his “It is high…” call. We held our breath and waited to see if Ibanez hit a pop up to the right fielder or if he in fact hit one out. Sterling’s call was just apprehensive enough to make those few seconds feel like hours. But when it was done, and the home run was verified, I couldn’t even scream. I held my breath and clutched the wheel.
But he’d done it again. And the score was tied.
Rafael Soriano got the Tigers out in the tenth and we watched the rest from home. Saw the Yankees fail to bring home a runner on second with one out in the bottom of the inning, Russell Martin swinging for Jupiter on a 2-0 pitch and every ensuing pitch after that before he flew out. Derek Jeter unable to do the job after him. Ichiro led off with a single one inning later but Cano–0-6–couldn’t do dick and neither could Teixeira or Ibanez.
The trouble here was that Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder loomed in the twelfth. Sure enough, Dave Phelps walked Cabrera who advanced to second on a ground out by Fielder. And then Young lined a ball to right and Nick Swisher, who has specialized in rolling around the ground like a stuck pig for two games–except maybe in the sixth on Young’s blooper–missed the ball. He rolled and tumbled but he whiffed on the ball, a play that must be made. Cabrera grinned all the way home and the Tigers had a lead that they would not relinquish. Maybe Swisher lost the ball in the lights or maybe he made a horrible mistake.
Then things got worse. A ground ball up the middle by Peralta and Derek Jeter stumbled after it. He gloved it but fell over and flipped the ball to Cano. Then Jeter yelled and then he didn’t get up. That doesn’t happen to Jeter. It was hard to see what happened on the replays but his left leg got caught underneath him and he appeared to roll his left ankle. Next thing you know, he’s being helped off the field by Joe Girardi and the trainer, applying no pressure to his left leg.
The Stadium was silent.
Didn’t matter that Phelps botched a ground ball that led to another run or that the Yanks went meekly in the bottom of the inning and lost the game. Here’s the news: Jeter’s ankle is fractured and he’s done for the series. The early word says he’ll recover in three months.
A frustrating night turned thrilling ended with a dispiriting conclusion.
[Photo Credit: Touchn2btouched]