The New York Yankees lost more than just a ballgame last night. They lost their captain. Derek Jeter suffered a fractured left ankle in the twelfth inning of a 6-4 loss to the Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS. Jeter ranged to his left on what looked like a routine ground ball off the bat of Jhonny Peralta and collapsed to the ground as he fielded the ball. Jeter would have to be helped from the field in a scene that had to be bring back images of Mariano Rivera for Yankees fans. Rivera had to be helped from the field earlier this season when he blew out his ACL shagging fly ball during batting practice.
Yankee fans can blame Jose Valverde for Jeter’s injury. The game would have ended nearly an hour earlier were it not for Valverde’s ninth inning meltdown. Detroit starter Doug Fister pitched around trouble and kept the Yankees off the scoreboard for 6 & 1/3 innings. The Tigers’ bullpen protected the shutout until the ninth and Jim Leyland handed the ball to Jose Valverde with a 4-0 lead. Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez each connected for 2-run homers to tie the game and send Papa Grande to the showers.
Valverde was replaced by another former Astro, Octavio Dotel. Valverde has been less than stellar during the post-season and one now has to wonder if he will be Detroit’s closer going forward. When asked after the game if Valverde would continue to be called upon to close games, Leyland told reporters:
Now is not the time to discuss it. We haven’t really made any decisions. We really want to put our heads together and discuss it first, to be honest with you, and get together as coaching staff and talk about it.
Translation: Yes, Valverde is out.
The Yankees will send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound this afternoon as they attempt to draw even in the series. Anibal Sanchez goes for the Tigers. Eduardo Nunez will replace Jeter on the Yankees roster and should share shortstop duties with Jayson Nix.