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ALCS Gm1: Jeter forced to exit with fractured ankle

Derek Jeter's fractured left ankle cast a pall over two clubhouses following a draining Game 1 in the American League Championship Series on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.

The Tigers prevailed, 6-4, in 12 innings to gain the upper hand, but there was a muted tone to their clubhouse in the afterglow.

Out of respect for Jeter, arguably the most popular guy within the players' fraternity, there was little of the upbeat talk of momentum gained heading into Game 2 on Sunday.

"You don't want to see the captain going down like that," said Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder. "Not only is he a great player -- he's a great guy, down to earth and humble. He forces us all to play the game the way he does, running out ground balls hard every time. He's Derek Jeter. He's the man."

Anibal Sanchez takes the ball in Game 2 for Detroit, with Hiroki Kuroda going for the Yankees on only three days' rest for the first time in his Major League career.

Detroit starters, led by ace Justin Verlander, have been brilliant this postseason, allowing just five earned runs in 41 innings with 46 strikeouts.

The bullpen, however, has started more fires than it has extinguished.

Jeter, the seemingly indomitable Yankees captain, needed assistance getting off the field after collapsing to the infield dirt in the game-turning 12th inning. He fielded a ground ball by Jhonny Peralta before losing his balance and tumbling to the ground.

Elevated for 17 years by Jeter's greatness, the Yankees have to soldier on, trying to ignore the severity of the loss.

"It's terrible," Andy Pettitte said, "but we've got a series to play, and somebody's going to have to take his spot."

Jayson Nix assumed the shortstop position, but nobody, realistically, replaces Jeter.

Pettitte sensed it was serious as Jeter writhed in pain in the dirt and was not surprised to learn the ankle was fractured.

"For him to lay down on that field, I knew something was broke or torn," Pettitte said, having gone 6 2/3 innings in a duel with Detroit starter Doug Fister. "When he didn't get up, I knew he was done, that he wasn't going to be able to play in the series. It's a bad loss -- the captain. Guys have got to move forward and play."

Jeter tried to jump-start the offense with a leadoff walk in the first and a single in the second, the 200th postseason hit of his career. The No. 2 man on the list, Bernie Williams, retired with 128 postseason hits.

It took them five games and eight innings of postseason play, but the Bronx Bombers of renown finally surfaced with a ninth-inning flurry against embattled Detroit closer Jose Valverde.

Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez unloaded matching two-run homers, sending it into extra innings. But the momentum was not sustained, and it was Detroit producing the decisive runs on Delmon Young's RBI double and Andy Dirks' infield hit against David Phelps after Jeter had departed.

"We'd love to see him out playing with us and playing against him," Young said of Jeter, "because it is really fun playing the Yankees -- especially when Derek Jeter is healthy."

New York manager Joe Girardi would love to see his offense get an earlier wakeup call. The Yankees have scored more times in the ninth inning or later (11 runs) than in the first eight innings (nine) of their six postseason games.

Winning Game 1 is a nice start, but the Tigers aren't taking anything for granted.

"It was important to come back after we let the lead get away, but we know it's not going to be easy" said leadoff catalyst Austin Jackson, who tripled, doubled and made a sensational catch in center field. "You hate to see that happen to Derek, but we know anything can happen. We have a lot of work left to do."

In 42 previous ALCS matchups, the team that won Game 1 has gone on to win the pennant 25 times, a .595 winning percentage.

In postseason history, Fall Classic included, Game 1 winners are 171-92, a .650 winning percentage.

Teams that seize the first two games are 19-3 in ALCS history.

The Yankees are 7-2 in series after losing Game 1 at home, and the Tigers are 3-0 in series after claiming Game 1 on the road.

The Yankees got big efforts in Game 1 from Ibanez and Ichiro.

Ibanez, who walked and doubled before his tying two-out homer in the ninth, has 16 total bases in 14 at-bats in this postseason.

Ichiro's four-hit effort in Game 1 was the first for a Yankees hitter in postseason play since Jeter went 5-for-5 against the Tigers on Oct. 3, 2006.

Yet the struggles of the Yankees' offense continue. Alex Rodriguez, 2-for-19 without an extra-base hit in the postseason, is drawing most of the attention, but he has company.

Robinson Cano has two hits, both doubles, in 28 postseason at-bats. Curtis Granderson is 3-for-23 with a homer and one RBI. Nick Swisher is 3-for-22 with a double and one RBI.

"We need this guy to be Alex," Girardi said before Rodriguez went 0-for-3, robbed by Peralta at shortstop of a bases-loaded hit in the first. "That's the bottom line. If we want to make some noise, we need this guy to be Alex."

That need has increased with Jeter's loss. Comments