Bottom 9th – Granderson up to lead off the inning, and he fouls the first pitch off; takes a ball outside to even the count at 1-1 and another low to move ahead 2-1. A called strike makes it 2-2 – I’m not sure I have been this nervous with a Tigers pitcher on
the mound in the 9th inning at Yankee Stadium since Billy Chapel’s perfect game…meanwhile Granderson flies out and the Yankees have 2 outs left to save their season. Cano swings at the first pitch, but the ball safely lands in Austin Jackson’s glove and we have 2 down. Alex Rodriguez is the batter faced with keeping the season alive and he is quickly down 0-2 and it’s down to the final strike. He swings and misses and that’s it, the Tigers win and will face the Rangers in the ALCS. The Yankees season ends earlier than hoped for – and only 8 days later than Boston’s.
So the Yankees season comes down to this, the bottom of the 9th in Game 5 of the ALCS, down 1 run. I am trying to invoke the spirit of 2001, when they came back from 2 runs down, 2 outs in the 9th, in back-to-back games of the World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Top 9th – The greatest closer in baseball history is in for a non-close situation, Mariano Rivera, who needs 5 pitches to get through a perfect 9th. In the bottom of the inning the Yankees have Granderson, Cano and Rodriguez due up to face Detroit closer Valverde, who has been perfect this season, converting all of 49 of his save opportunities
Bottom 7th – This season, the Detroit Tigers were 79-0 in games they led after the 7th inning…bollocks. The TBS commentator points out this could be Jorge Posada’s last at bat as a Yankee – hopefully he will have plenty more in the ALCS and World Series to come though. In a rare show of speed, he nearly beats out an infield grounder, but he does not so there is one out. Russell Martin is up next, who has looked very uncomfortable at the plate tonight, this series, and basically since April when he was crushing the ball. He swings at pitch that is down low and way outside to fall behind 0-2, before finally showing some patience to get it all the way back to a full count – but then strikes out looking – backing up a text I just sent to a fellow Yankees fan that next season Jesus Montero should be the full time catcher. Gardner then hits one in the gap to left field for a two out single – on the first pitch to Jeter, the runner takes off from first but the Yankees captain crushes the ball, it goes high, far and…is caught at the wall to end the inning. We head to the 9th; Detroit 3 New York 2
David Robertson is in to pitch the 8th inning for the Yankees, their 6th pitcher of the night. Robertson gets Cabrera to strike out and then retires Martinez on a pop-up to the catcher and Brandon Inge on a ground-out to shortstop – inning over.
Swisher is 3-11 lifetime against Benoit, but all 3 of those hits have been home runs, and all have come in his last 6 at bats against the Tigers’ pitcher. Great eye from Nick Swisher to leave a pitch just outside, to even the count at 2-2 – but then chases one high and outside and he strikes out to end the inning.
Cano taps one back to the mound, but a kind bounce takes it away from Benoit and the bases are loaded with Alex Rodriguez coming up next. The tension is getting to everyone, Detroit manager Jim Leyland is shown popping some sunflower seeds in to chew on – when did they stop him chain smoking in the dugout? After much delaying, Benoit gets around to throwing some pitches, and he gets ahead of Mr. April 1-2, who then strikes out swinging. Teixeira watches five straight pitches out of the zone, the fourth was called a strike erroneously, but that’s enough to walk and force in a run. Detroit 3 New York 2 – bases still loaded – Swisher up.
Bottom 7th – the start of the inning is delayed as Tigers’ left fielder Delmon Young is forced to leave with an injury, he is replaced by Ryan Rayburn. Gardner leads off for the Yankees, who have 9 outs left to try and turn this around and force a rematch of last season’s ALCS versus Detroit. Scherzer is all over the place and yet works back from a 3-0 count to strike out Gardner – the Yankees left fielder doing that frustrating thing of not swinging at the 3-0 pitch even when it is a fastball down the middle. Jeter is up next, 0-3 tonight but he breaks out of that with an infield single – forcing Detroit manager to pull Scherzer for setup man Joaquin Benoit with Curtis Granderson on deck. During the commerical break we are reminded how awesome guacamole, and by extension avocados, are. We are then forced to watch new pitcher remove a BandAid from his cheek, apparently at the request of Yankees manager Joe Giradi. The reasoning behind him asking for it to be taken off may be questionable, but the decision by TBS to show it being pulled off in close-up and high definition, is completely indefensible. When play resumes, Granderson singles to right and the Yankees have two on with just one out.
Soriano works a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th, meanwhile Suman asks if I agree with ESPN’s gamecast which suggests the Tigers have a 69% chance of winning from this point. If 2001 taught me anything in post-season baseball, it is never count out the Yankees until the final out.
After a brief adjournment, in the shape of me putting my four-month old to bed, the sixth inning is uneventful with neither side adding to their run totals. Soriano now pitching for the Yankees, Scherzer for the Tigers
Bottom 5th – The Tigers have brought in Brandon Inge at third base, Don Kelly moving to right field to replace Magglio Ordonez – a defensively minded move. Jeter grounds out for the first out of the inning, followed quickly by Granderson who flies out to left. Up next is Robinson Cano who hits one high, it is far, it is…GONE! Home Run New York Yankees and they are on the board, Detroit 3 New York 1. A-Rod grounds out to end the inning
Top 5th – As predicted (see 9:12pm) CC is in to pitch in the 5th inning, but does not start well and gives up a full count double to
leadoff hitter Austin Jackson. Kelly then makes Sabbathia work before striking out and then Delmon Young follows suit, two away. The Yankees then intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera, preferring to face Victor Martinez instead. The strategy backfires though as Martinez hits a single which centre fielder Curtis Granderson bobbles, allowing Jackson to score easily from second base: Detroit 3 New York 0. CC strikes out Ordonez to end the inning, but the Yankees really need to put some runs on the board in the bottom half of this inning.
Bottom 4th – Alex Rodriguez – just 2-13 in this series – works a leadoff walk to start the inning, followed by Tex flying out. Swisher then hits a single to give the Yankees 2 runners on with 1 out, with Jorge Posada coming to the plate. The long serving Yankees catcher turned DH makes Fister work before smacking a single to centre to load the bases. Still just one out and Russell Martin is up next – who pops up for the second out. Brett Gardner now has the responsibility of making this rally count for something, the bases still loaded but two men down. Gardner works the count to 3-2, fouls one back before popping out to third base – it remains Detroit 2 New York 0
Avila hits a single to right off Logan’s first pitch to give the Tigers two men on with just one out in the fourth inning. Supposed left-handed specialist Boone Logan then gets right handed Peralta to fly out to Swisher in right field, before striking out the switch-hitting Santiago.
Top 4th – Jas asks if we are likely to see CC tonight (again you can post comments below, or e-mail email@example.com) – if it stays close I expect either the 5th of 6th inning would be made for the big man – with the 7th, 8th and 9th likely to be the tried and tested formula of Soriano, Robertson and Rivera. For now, Phil Hughes is still on the mound and he gets Victor Martinez to pop up to catcher Russell Martin before Ordonez hits a single to right. Giradi has seen enough and calls for lefty specialist Boone Logan to come in to face Avila, Phil Hughes trudges off – his night, and possibly season, finished
…Granderson walks on a 3-2 pitch, giving Robinson Cano an opportunity with two runners on and two outs. Cano fouls back a couple of pitches on a 2-2 count, while TBS shows us Spike Lee screaming his encouragement from the stands, but the second baseman ends up flying out to centre.
Bottom 3rd – Russell Martin leads off the inning, but grounds out to third baseman Don Kelly, followed by Brett Gardner hitting an 0-2 pitch to centre field for a single. Fister holds Gardner close at first and at the same time strikes out Derek Jeter for the second out. Could really use a home run from Curtis Granderson right now who led the Yankees with 41 in the regular season…
Top 3rd – the shortest leash for Nova – Hughes is in to pitch the top of the 3rd inning for New York. The man YES play-by-play guy, Michael Kay, insists on calling Phil Yooose – strikes out Jackson and Kelly before giving up a long single to Delmon Young which bounces off the right field wall, but the next batter, Miguel Cabrera, grounds out to shortstop Derek Jeter and the inning is over.
Bottom 2nd – Alex Rodriguez is called out on strikes on a pitch that looks outside, but TBS’s graphic shows it’s right on the corner. Mark Teixeira is up next and smacks a ground rule double to deep right, giving the Yankees their first hit of the night, but that is followed by Swisher grounding out to short to leave the Yankees with two outs. Jorge Posada, who coming into tonight’s game is hitting .400 in this series with 4 walks and was also hit by a pitch, strikes out looking to end the inning.
Top 2nd – The commentators tell us that Nova didn’t give up a home run in the first inning during the regular season…which I guess is meant to make us Yankees fans feel better that he gave up 2 tonight? I’m not sure how many doubles he gave up in the second, but Ordonez, who’d fought off several pitches, hits one to left field. The Yankees already have Phil Hughes getting ready in the bullpen – Nova understandably on a very short leash in this win-or-go-home game. Avila grounds out to second base, advancing the runner to third with only one out. Jhonny Peralta is up next, a man who does not even know how to spell his own first name, and he grounds out to Alex Rodriguez at third, who can hold Ordonez before throwing to Teixeira for the out at first, two away. Ramon Santiago, Detroit’s second baseman works the count full to 3-2, fights off a fastball away before striking out on a fastball inside. Good work from Nova to survive the leadoff double – still Tigers up 2-0
Bottom 1st – Jeter hits a sharp ball down the first base line but is robbed of a double by an athletic play by Miguel Cabrera who gets to the bag before the Yankees captain for the first out. Granderson strikes out on three pitches, followed by Cano grounding out to short – three up, three down for New York.
Top 1st – Nova gets former Yankee Austin Jackson to strike out swinging, but then gives up back to back home runs to Don Kelly and Delmon Young…this does not look good. Cabrera strikes out followed by Victor Martinez grounding out to Robinson Cano to end the inning, but the damage has been done. Detroit 2 New York 0
Game time! My accompanying beer of choice for the night: Brooklyn Lager
Two things – this page will not auto-refresh, so you’ll need to hit F5 or reload to get updates – and answer tonight’s poll question – who wins?
1. CF A. Jackson
2. 3B D. Kelly
3. LF D. Young
4. 1B M. Cabrera
5. DH V. Martinez
6. RF M. Ordonez
7. C A. Avila
8. SS J. Peralta
9. 2B R. Santiago
Pitcher – D. Fister
1. SS D. Jeter
2. CF C. Granderson
3. 2B R. Cano
4. 3B A. Rodriguez
5. 1B M. Teixeira
6. RF N. Swisher
7. DH J. Posada
8. C R. Martin
9. LF B. Gardner
Pitcher – I. Nova
I’ll be covering the crucial winner-takes-all game 5 of the ALDS between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees – first pitch is scheduled for 8pm ET tonight. If you have a comment or question relating to the game, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
The pitching matchup tonight is a repeat of the non-starters of game 1: Ivan Nova and Doug Fister came in as relief pitchers in
the second inning for CC Sabbathia and Justin Verlander respectively, after the series opener had a rain delay of 23 hours. Nova had a great second half to the year, despite having been briefly sent back down to the minor leagues in July, and has become their de facto ace, with CC having struggled since the end of August. Meanwhile, Fister was with Seattle until a mid-season trade rescued him from there – his 3-12 record improved to 11-13 after his move to the Tigers. An ERA (Earned Run Average) of under 3 shows that his problem was run support with the Mariners, rather than his own performance, nevertheless Fister did lose his only start against the Yankees during the regular season, and took the loss in Game 1.