The Detroit Tigers opened up the American League Championship series with a thrilling 6-4 victory over the New York Yankees in 12 innings.
The Tigers seemed to be headed towards an impressive 4-0 victory after a gutsy pitching performance from Doug Fister and two RBI from Delmon Young. But Jose Valverde failed to protect the four-run lead in the ninth inning, and New York pushed the game into extra innings.
After going scoreless in the 10th and 11th innings, the Tigers again received a spark from Young, who had an RBI-double in the team's two-run rally in the 12th. The Yankees failed to answer, and the Tigers held on for a Game 1 victory.
Here is how Twitter reacted to this thriller, as well as grades for the key players.
Derek Jeter's lone hit was a historic occasion, as noted by the team's official Twitter account:
Nick Swisher's playoff performances have earned him a significant amount of scorn from the Yankee faithful, and ESPN's Mike Mazzeo also voiced his displeasure with the outfielder:
Nick Swisher, if you are trying to cash in for $100 million this offseason, good luck. #Yankees— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) October 14, 2012
MLB used its Twitter to speculate that Fister's ability to get out of so many sticky situations in this game could only be explained by the supernatural:
MLB (@MLB) October 14, 2012
Seeing Derek Jeter achieve historical bests is not surprising, but when Delmon Young puts his name down in the record book, that will raise a few eyebrows. MLB noted the designated hitter's history-making home run:
After blowing a four-run lead in the ninth inning, Bill Simmons wondered if Jose Valverde may have preferred the Octagon to the mound tonight:
Who took a worse beating tonight - Jose Valverde or Fabio Maldonado?— Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33) October 14, 2012
Raul Ibanez's game-tying home run continued the trend of history-making hits in this game, as ESPN Stats & Info points out:
Raul Ibanez is the first player ever with three home runs in the ninth inning or later in a single postseason.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 14, 2012
Jon Heyman noted that while the victory was more exciting than it needed to be for Detroit, the team should have a much more positive outlook on the series than New York:
Steve Berthiaume of ESPN reported the news that overshadows everything from this game. Derek Jeter will not be playing for the remainder of the playoffs.
BREAKING: Joe Girardi says Derek Jeter has a fractured ankle and is done for the season. #Yankees— Steve Berthiaume (@SBerthiaumeESPN) October 14, 2012
Grades for Key Players
Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees: B+
Pettitte pitched a fine game, but received no run support for his efforts. He allowed seven hits and two runs in 6.2 innings of work, and even at age 40, he is still turning in excellent postseason outings.
The pitching was certainly not the problem for New York early in this game, and the team must perform better in the first eight innings going forward.
Doug Fister, Detroit Tigers: A-
Pettitte's counterpart also pitched a fantastic game, and he constantly frustrated a potent Yankees offense. Fister stayed on the mound for 6.1 innings, allowing six hits and no runs.
Fister's performance likely raised manager Jim Leyland's blood pressure, as he loaded the bases three times, but escaped each jam without letting the Yankees on the scoreboard.
Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees: A
Suzuki quietly turned in a productive outing before he loudly elevated his performance by smashing a two-run home run in the ninth inning to start the Yankees' rally.
He ended the game going 4-for-6 with a home run and two RBI. New York fans would have faced disappointment much earlier in the night if not for Ichiro.
Delmon Young, Detroit Tigers: A
Dealing with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera is an extremely difficult task, and Delmon Young is often put in a position to drive in runs after those two All-Stars get on base.
He delivered in this game with three RBI, including a double that gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead in the 12th inning. While Cabrera and Fielder get most of the attention, Young was the Tigers' most potent offensive weapon Saturday night.
Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers: F
Dishing out a failing grade is awfully harsh, but Valverde put forth a rare performance in which he undoubtedly deserved the "F." He had a four-run lead against an offense that was severely frustrated.
He blew the lead and continued to prove why Tigers fans have their hearts in their throats every time he takes the mound.
The series will stay in New York for another game, as the Yankees try to put on a significantly improved performance in Game 2 on Sunday.
Anibal Sanchez will pitch for the Tigers, while Hiroki Kuroda is set to take the mound for the home team. The first pitch will be at 4 p.m. ET on TBS.