Bronx, NY – The Detroit Tigers overcame a massive collapse from their closer to take a 1-0 lead in the American League Championship Series. The New York Yankees may have a greater obstacle to overcome, however.
Delmon Young's tie-breaking RBI double in the 12th inning helped lift Detroit to a 6-4 win in the opener of this best-of-seven set, in which the Yankees lost shortstop and captain Derek Jeter to a fractured left ankle during the deciding frame.
Young had a solo homer earlier on and finished with three hits and three RBI. His big hits -- and especially Jeter's injury -- helped turn a near-remarkable comeback by the Bronx Bombers into a sour ending for the Yankee Stadium crowd.
Jose Valverde came on to protect a 4-0 lead for Detroit in the bottom of the ninth inning and was greeted by a Russell Martin single before Ichiro Suzuki wrapped a seemingly innocuous homer around the right-field foul pole one out later to finally get New York on the board. The Tigers closer rebounded to strike out Robinson Cano, but couldn't put away Mark Teixeira as the Yankee first baseman drew a walk to keep his team's chances alive.
Raul Ibanez, who delivered two late-inning homers in New York's comeback win over Baltimore in Game 3 of the ALDS, came through once again, sending a Valverde splitter about three rows deep over the wall in right-center to forge a 4-4 tie.
The Yankees' fortunes would change drastically later on, however.
After neither team scored in the 10th or 11th, New York's David Phelps (0-2) issued a leadoff walk to Miguel Cabrera before Prince Fielder moved the 2012 AL Triple Crown winner to second with a grounder. Young then sent a line drive that got past Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher to bring home Cabrera for a 5-4 lead.
"This is my fourth postseason so maybe having a couple of years under my belt helps to keep me calm out there," said Young.
Jhonny Peralta followed with a ground ball up the middle. Jeter made the stop, but wasn't able to get up and flipped the ball weakly to second before having to be helped off the field.
"His ankle is fractured," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "It will be a three-month recovery period. It won't threaten his career, but he won't be playing any more this season."
Andy Dirks then singled in front of the pitcher's mound to score pinch-runner Don Kelly for an insurance tally, and the Yankees were set down in order in the bottom of the 12th by Detroit rookie Drew Smyly (1-0), who yielded just one hit while striking out two over the final two innings.
"We've been taking punches all year," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. "Tonight we took a big right cross, but we survived it."
New York couldn't generate anything against Tigers starter Doug Fister either. The tall right-hander scattered six hits and four walks over 6 1/3 shutout frames, working out of three bases-loaded jams during his 106-pitch stint.
The Yankees' Andy Pettitte matched zeros with Fister over the first five innings, before the Tigers were able to break through in the top of the sixth.
Austin Jackson led off with a triple into the right-field corner and Cabrera was intentionally walked with one out to set the table for Prince Fielder, who ripped a base hit up the middle to easily plate Jackson with the game's first run.
Young followed with a bloop single to right that enabled Cabrera to score from second for a 2-0 advantage.
The Yankees would threaten in their half of the sixth, as an error by Tigers second baseman Omar Infante and Ibanez's double put runners on second and third with none out. Fister would bear down and keep the New York bats silenced, however.
He made quick work of a befuddled Alex Rodriguez, fanning the struggling slugger on just three pitches. Fister did the same to Curtis Granderson after walking Swisher to load the bases, then threw a slider past Martin for the inning's final out.
The Yankees had similar chances go awry in the game's early stages, with Rodriguez bouncing into a fielder's choice to leave the sacks full in the first and Peralta throwing out Cano at first to get Fister out of a bases- loaded scenario an inning later.
Young extended the lead to 3-0 with a long home run off Derek Lowe in the seventh. Peralta doubled later in the inning and crossed the plate on Avisail Garcia's two-out single to lengthen the margin to four runs.
Game 2 will take place on Sunday, with Hiroki Kuroda getting the call for the Yankees and Detroit sending out Anibal Sanchez.
"There's disappointment that we didn't win the game and there's disappointment that our captain went down for the year," said Girardi. "But we've been through disappointing games before and we just have to find a way to get it done, just like we have before."
Jeter went 1-for-5 and became the first player in postseason history to record 200 career hits with a second-inning single ... Rodriguez finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout and was removed for pinch-hitter Eric Chavez in the eighth ... Pettitte lasted 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits ... Young smacked three home runs in five games during Detroit's ousting of New York in last year's AL Division Series ... The Tigers have now registered a quality start in five of their six games during this postseason.