There’s absolutely no doubt that we got a fantastic game for the first matchup of this year’s ALCS between the Tigers and Yankees. An excellent pitching matchup of Doug Fister and Andy Pettitte was really on display for the first several innings, although it didn’t look like it would be. The Yankees loaded the bases in both the first and second inning, only to be thwarted on great defensive plays by Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta. However, in the third inning, Fister settled down to pitch a great ballgame and the dominant Pettitte would actually be the first to crack.
That was when Austin Jackson tripled down the right field line to begin the sixth inning. Omar Infante failed to drive him in, but Miguel Cabrera’s walk set up a first and third situation for Prince Fielder. Fielder delivered with a single up the middle, and was followed by a bloop RBI single to right by Delmon Young, putting the Tigers up 2-0. The Tigers kept rolling in the eighth inning, starting with a one out solo shot to left by Delmon Young, who wound up going 3-6 with 3 RBIs in the game. Later in the inning, they got another run when Avisail Garcia drove in Peralta with a single to make it 4-0.
Tigers’ relievers Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit pitched a scoreless eighth, but closer Jose Valverde ran into his share of trouble in the ninth. He allowed a leadoff single to Russell Martin, and after a Derek Jeter strikeout, allowed a big home run down the right field line to Ichiro Suzuki– cutting their lead in half at 4-2. Valverde struck out Robinson Cano on the next at bat, but allowed a walk to Mark Teixeira– setting up an optimal position for playoff hero Raul Ibanez. Once again, Ibanez delivered with a drive into the first few rows past right field for a two-run blast to tie it up at 4-4.
The demoralized Tigers limped through the next few innings before finally getting back together in the 12th inning. With David Phelps on the mound for the Yankees, the Tigers were able to put Miguel Cabrera in scoring position with just one out. Once again, Delmon Young would deliver with an RBI double– his 3rd RBI of the game– to put the Tigers up 5-4. Andy Dirks drove in another run with a single to put the Tigers up two heading into the bottom of the 12th. Drew Smyly, who had pitched the 11th, closed out the game with a 1-2-3 inning as the Tigers went up 1-0.