Jeter fractures ankle, out for postseason
The Yankees ultimately lost the game, 6-4, but Saturday night was about way more than just a loss in the box score: The team lost its captain, its leader.
Derek Jeter is officially lost for the season with a fractured ankle, and if the Yankees want to win their 28th World Series title, they are going to have to do it without their shortstop.
“His ankle is fractured, so he's out,” Joe Girardi said bluntly after the game. “They talked about a three-month recovery period. Won't jeopardize his career, but he will not be playing anymore for us this year.”
Girardi feels for the shortstop, because he knows how much Jeter loves to play. However, the Yankees skipper added that in these types of situations, the captain would tell his team to keep going.
“If Derek Jeter needs help getting off the field, it's something extremely serious, so I didn't expect the X-Rays to be showing anything but something bad,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “I knew his season was over. The Derek Jeter that we all have seen, he walks off the field if he can, and he couldn't.”
When asked how Jeter's demeanor was, Cashman said, “He's very quiet. He didn't say anything. Just shook his head when he was given the information.”
Jeter has been battling and has been hobbling on the same ankle and foot that eventually fractured for about a month now, but he fought through the pain and played. Now, this crushing blow ends his season, and the next time anyone sees Jeter playing in pinstripes will be Spring Training.
Game 1 was a night of emotional swings that culminated with the devastating loss of Jeter and the game. The Yankees stranded runners all evening and left the bases loaded three times. A number of wasted opportunities was again the story of this team.
Down 4-0 in the ninth inning, the Yankees had to face Tigers closer Jose Valverde, who has been extremely shaky down the stretch and in the postseason. He promptly gave up a two-run home run to Ichiro Suzuki, and Raul Ibanez once again found magic up his sleeve, tying the game at 4-4 with a two-run jack of his own.
But, euphoria would soon turn to agony for the Yankees.
Delmon Young smacked an RBI double in the 12th inning to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead, and in the very next at-bat for Detroit, Jhonny Peralta hit one up the middle that Jeter tried to move toward. He got to the ball and collapsed awkwardly. He immediately had the presence of mind to flip the ball to Robinson Cano, so no runners would advance, but the usually tough captain was writhing in pain on the ground.
Girardi and Steve Donohue immediately went out to check on the shortstop and see what was wrong, but the telltale sign that something had gone awry was that Jeter was not able to get up at all. The stadium went from a very hopeful atmosphere to dead silent in seconds.
The news of Jeter's season-ending injury came down after the game, and now the Yankees have the hardest fight ahead of them. This isn't just a simple loss on the right side of the column; it's a loss at the heart of the team.
“We have to have guys step up,” Mark Teixeira said after the game. “That's kind of been the theme all year. If one team is used to having guys step in to take someone's place it's us. We've had to deal with it all year. It's really disappointing to have Derek out of the lineup. You know how much this game means to him, especially the playoffs mean so much to him. We probably feel more for him than anyone else who would go out.”
“He's a real tough guy,” Brett Gardner said. “He's fought through a lot here recently, and when he went down, I though it looked a little odd. And then when I saw he couldn't get up and he flipped the ball to Robbie Cano, because he knew there was a guy on second that could possible from third to home, you knew it wasn't good. It's frustrating; it's a frustrating loss. It's tough for Jeter to go down like that, especially after all that he's fought through the last couple of weeks.”
Despite a tough night, the common theme in the clubhouse after the game was one of hope. Hope that this team can move forward without Jeter and one that others can step up, because the goal is still to win a championship. The team seemed obviously deflated, but it also echoed what the job ahead called for.
“At the moment, the only thing that goes through my head is his well-being, as a teammate and as a human being,” Ibanez said. “You know that he's been fighting through some stuff, and the guy's a grinder, he's a gamer. It's a very difficult moment for us, but at the same time, we're going to have to step up and make it happen.”
“It has to be said, I'm not going to replace him,” Jayson Nix added. “Bottom line, somebody has got to step up and try to fill that role and move on.”
Game 1 starter Andy Pettitte was even more focused on his longtime friend and teammate than on how he pitched after the game.
“It's terrible,” Pettitte said. “We've got a series we have to play. We have to win this series. Somebody will have to step in and fill that spot.”
The one advantage the Yankees have over other teams is that they can sustain injuries and their depth can get them through. However, this final blow might be the one that ultimately takes down the 2012 Yankees.
“We have a lot of talent,” Cashman said. “We've got a lot of guys who care. We have a lot of fight, and they've demonstrated that the entire year, no matter what has transpired. We've gone up against some great teams all season long. We've dealt with a lot of great players that we've lost along the way, and they've continued to fight through it.”
For the first time since the latest dynasty run began in 1996, the Yankees will now be without Mariano Rivera and Jeter on their postseason roster. The task ahead is not an easy one for these Yankees, but they’ll have to have a short-term memory if they want to move on without one of the greatest Yankees to ever wear the pinstripes.