Score and situation: The Detroit Tigers walked the tightrope early and then nearly saw the entire game slip away thanks to Jose Valverde's ninth inning meltdown. Yet somehow, someway, they averted a complete disaster escaped with a 6-4 win over the New York Yankees in 12 innings on Saturday night in the Bronx.
Leading lads: Delmon Young was the offensive star for Detroit. He had three hits, including a home run off Derek Lowe in the eighth and the go-ahead RBI double in the 12th inning that proved to be the winner. He knocked in three.
Tigers starter Doug Fister was wobbly most of the evening, but tough as nails when he needed to be. Over his 6 1/3 eventful innings, he allowed 11 base runners, but escaped every situation unscathed. He was also struck hard on the wrist by a Robinson Cano line drive in the second inning. That he was able to continue beyond that point is a testament to his toughness.
For New York, that man did it again. With the Yankees down to their final out, Raul Ibanez launched a two-out, two-run homer to tie the game against soon to be former Tigers closer Jose Valverde. Earlier in the inning, Ichiro Suzuki also connected for a two-run homer that cut Detroit's lead in half. He finished the night 4 for 6.
Head hangers: The Yankees left the bases loaded three times in the first six innings. Granted, one of those rallies was cut short by a blown call at first base, but their quality of at-bats with runners in scoring position left a lot to be desired. In fact, they went 1 for 10 in those situations outside of the ninth inning, with the lone hit being of the infield variety.
The disastrous postseason for Jose Valverde continues. After blowing the save in Game 4 of the ALDS, which forced Detroit to use Justin Verlander in Game 5, he was even worse in a non-save situation on Saturday night, blowing a 4-0 ninth inning lead by allowing the two two-run homers to Ichiro and Ibanez.
Key play: For the first 8 1/2 innings, the biggest play in the game was a missed call by first base umpire Rob Drake in the second inning that cost the Yankees at least one run, and potentially many more as New York's inning would have continued with the bases still loaded. That changed, however, when Raul Ibanez connected for his game-tying home run. And then it changed again in the 12th when Young doubled past a diving Nick Swisher in right field.
Interesting stat I: Raul Ibanez and Alex Rodriguez are now the only two players to hit two game-tying home runs in the ninth inning or later in the same postseason.
Interesting stat II: The Yankees have scored 11 runs in the ninth inning or later this postseason. That have scored nine total runs before the ninth inning.
What they'll be talking about: Derek Jeter's fractured ankle suffered in the 12th inning is the big story coming out. We'll likely hear a lot of questions about whether he should have even been out there, but the bottom line is Jeter's season is over. Also, was Jim Leyland watching the same game as everyone else? His loyalty to Jose Valverde in the ninth inning was mind-boggling, and it nearly cost his Tigers a big Game 1 victory.
[Slideshow: Derek Jeter breaks ankle in Yankees' loss to Tigers]
What's next: The roller coaster ride for New York continues on Sunday afternoon. After surviving and advancing against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night, the Yankees find themselves right back in trouble with a very important Game 2 starring them in the face, and they'll have to face it without their captain. That game is scheduled for 4:00 ET, and will feature a pitching matchup of Hiroki Kuroda vs. Anibal Sanchez.
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