The New York Yankees lost more than the opening game of the American League Championship Series as team captain Derek Jeter fractured his ankle, ruling him out for the rest of the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The 38-year-old shortstop, who tallied his 200th postseason hit in his record 158th playoff game, was injured as he fielded a grounder in the 12th and final inning of a 6-4 defeat to the Detroit Tigers last night. The recovery will take about three months, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said.
“It won’t jeopardize his career, but he won’t be playing with us anymore this year,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said during a televised news conference.
The Yankees moved from being the 5-2 favorite to win the World Series before the loss to the 5-1 long shot to claim a record-extending 28th title, according to the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book. The Tigers are the new favorites, at 3-2, to win a fifth World Series and first since 1984, with the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals at 3-1.
“Anyone would admit we have a better chance of winning with Derek Jeter in the lineup,” Girardi said. “We have to move on. I’m not saying that in a cold way, but we’re trying to win a series.”
Jayson Nix will take over at shortstop for today’s game at Yankee Stadium, the second in the best-of-seven series. Girardi said the fracture isn’t related to a bone bruise Jeter sustained in Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles when he fouled a ball off his left ankle.
“That’s kind of crushing,” right fielder Nick Swisher said of Jeter’s injury. “It’s really tough. We’ve got to keep pushing along and keep playing our game, and hopefully we can pull it out.”
The Giants visit the Cardinals today in the first game of the National League Championship Series.
The Tigers blew a 4-0 lead last night when Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez both hit two-run homers in the ninth.
Delmon Young, who had a solo home run in the eighth inning, doubled in the 12th to send home Miguel Cabrera for a 5-4 lead. Andy Dirks added a run-scoring single.
Prince Fielder opened the scoring for the Tigers with a one-run single in the sixth inning. Young hit a single to right to send home Cabrera as the Tigers took a 2-0 lead.
After Young’s homer in the eighth, Jhonny Peralta scored on Avisail Garcia’s single to make it 4-0.
With Jose Valverde in relief, Suzuki blasted his two-run homer and then, with the Yankees down to their final out, Ibanez tied the game. It was the third time since Oct. 2 he has performed the feat.
On Oct. 10, Ibanez pinch-hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the third game against the Orioles and send it into extra innings. He then led off the 12th inning with a game-winning homer.
Eight days earlier he had a pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox, then won the game with a run-scoring single in the 12th.
Drew Smyly allowed one hit and struck out two in the final two innings of last night’s game for the win. David Phelps gave up two runs on three hits for the loss.
Girardi said seeing Jeter sprawled out on the field reminded him of the May 3 incident when closer Mariano Rivera, 42, tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee while catching fly balls during a pregame warm-up, ending his season.
“It is kind of a flashback to when Mo didn’t get up,” Girardi said. “Oh, boy, if he’s not getting up, something’s wrong.”
The Yankee clubhouse was quiet as Jeter’s teammates pondered the events on the field.
“Watching Jete go down was, and still is, a very difficult moment for us as a team,” Ibanez said.