By John Lowe, Detroit Free Press –
NEW YORK — In Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night, Delmon Young doubled home Miguel Cabrera to break a 4-4 tie and start a two-run rally. Al Alburquerque took over for the 12th and finished off the 6-4 victory that might be amazingly costly to the Yankees. Shortstop Derek Jeter suffered an injury to his leg making a diving stop in the 12th and had to be helped off the field.
The Tigers had a 4-0 lead headed into the ninth, but Jose Valverde allowed a none-out single and then a one-out homer to Ichiro Suzuki. He struck out Robinson Cano for the second out. But he walked Mark Teixeira after he got ahead of him 0-2 — the pass that allowed Raul Ibanez to bat.
And on 0-1, Ibanez launched his fourth tying homer in the ninth inning or later in the last three weeks. It also made him the first player to hit three homers in the ninth inning or later in one postseason, according to ESPN Stats. Valverde departed for Octavio Dotel as the stadium rocked. Valverde hadn’t given up a homer since late July until this inning.
Right-hander Doug Fister escaped three bases-loaded jams and gave the Tigers’ their fifth quality start in six postseason games this season.
He didn’t allow a run and turned a two-run lead over to the bullpen in the seventh.
Phil Coke retired both batters he faced in the seventh. Young delivered his second RBI of the game with a bases-empty homer in the eighth. It was his sixth postseason homer, the most in franchise history. Then Jhonny Peralta doubled and Avisail Garcia singled him home, and the Tigers had a four-run lead with six outs to go.
Fister walked as many as three batters in just three starts this season. Then he walked the bases loaded with two out in the first, bringing to bat Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez ripped the first pitch in the hole toward leftfield. Peralta skidded after it, snagged it and turned to fire to second. At first, it appeared that either runner Ibañez had beaten the throw or that Omar Infante had come off the bag to make the catch, or both. Did Rodriguez have his first RBI in 17 postseason at-bats this season? No. Second-base umpire Sam Holbrook ruled Ibañez out. The Yankees didn’t argue.
What the Yankees did with walks in the first, they did with hits in the second. Three consecutive singles, the last one of Suzuki’s infield specials, loaded the bases with two out.
Cano hit a smash that deflected off Fister. Peralta took the carom and fired to first to get Cano by … What? The thickness of a batting helmet? Such as the batting helmet Cano spiked in disgust as he crossed the bag? The Yankees didn’t argue that call, either.
That was two narrow bases-loaded escapes for Fister in two innings, both thanks to Peralta.
The Tigers didn’t put a runner in scoring position until Austin Jackson hit the first pitch of the sixth over first base. The ball curled into foul territory, hit the home-plate side of a box that juts out and stopped. By the time the Yankees could get to the ball, Jackson was pulling into third with a triple.
After Infante flied to shallow right, Andy Pettitte intentionally walked Cabrera to set up a double-play escape with Fielder. But Fielder lined a single to center to score the game’s first run and send Cabrera to second.
Young landed a single to right in front of Nick Swisher. When Swisher threw to second in an unsuccessful try to force Fielder, Cabrera kept coming around third and scored without a play.
Peralta walked to load the bases. Then Pettitte, the old master, retired Andy Dirks and Garcia on pop-ups.
That was nothing compared to Fister’s next bases-loaded escape.
In the bottom of the inning, the Yankees put runners at second and third with none out on Infante’s error at second (he couldn’t get off a routine throw) and then a double that Ibañez bounced over first.
Fister fanned Rodriguez on three pitches. He walked Swisher, loading the bases. He struck out Curtis Granderson on three pitches (some boos for Granderson), and then got the No. 9 hitter, Russell Martin, swinging to end the inning.
Fister had fanned the side with the potential tying run at second base. He pumped his fist as he walked off the mound — a rare show of emotion from this quiet man.