Yankees Star Fractures Foot, Out until Spring Training
It’s Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers are playing in extra innings thanks to some late heroics by pinch hitter Raul Ibanez in the ninth inning. The count is even at two balls and two strikes, with a runner on second and only one out. The Tigers scored a run earlier in the inning, and are trying to add more. A ground ball to short is hit off of the bat of Jhonny Peralta, the Tigers shortstop. Derek Jeter ranges to his left, stumbles, and lands on his ankle awkwardly. He is down, and doesn’t get up.
This might have been the defining moment of the Yankees season. They were shut out in game 2, losing 3-0. This was the first playoff game the Yankees played without Jeter in his 18 years in New York. The shock of losing Derek Jeter to a fractured ankle may have been bad, but being down 2-0 in the series and having to face Tigers ace pitcher Justin Verlander in game 3 without their team captain just might have been worse.
The Jeter-less Yankees lost to Verlander’s Tigers, and proceeded to lose game 4 as well, in a blowout. The Tigers advanced to the World Series for the first time since 2006.
Jeter had played in every postseason game the for the Yankees since 1996, ranging 16 years and 158 games, all with the Yankees. He is a lifetime .308 hitter in postseason play, and has led them to five World Series titles, the most recent being in 2009. Through 5 playoff games leading up to the injury, he was hitting at a .364 clip, by far the best in the Yankees lineup.
Jeter decided to opt for surgery on his ankle, and the timetable to return will be 4-5 months. This would put him on track to be fully healthy by early Spring Training in mid-February, or late Spring Training in mid-March. He could return sooner, but it is unknown whether he will be ready for opening day, 2013.
Destined for the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jeter has already surpassed the 3,000 hits mark, a near certain lock into the Hall. He sits at 3,304, ranking 11th all-time. His 200 career hits in the postseason is the most all-time. Other postseason categories he leads includes runs scored (111), doubles (32), triples (5, tied for first), and he owns the second highest amount of postseason home runs with 20.
Jeter has appeared in 2,743 games with the Yankees, (including the playoffs), and his injury proved to be a significant blow to the team. The mighty Yankees ran out of gas, and the Jeter injury was like a punch in the gut to an already exhausted team.
Having the heart of the team ripped out was not a good thing for the Yankees, who barely had a pulse in the playoffs. His teammates could not fill the void Jeter left in the lineup. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez went into a 3-23 (.130) funk, with no extra base hits and 12 strikeouts.Teammate Robinson Cano struggled even more, with only 3 hits in his last 40 at-bats (.083). Rodriguez was benched in game three, as well as outfielder Nick Swisher, who was only 5-30 (.153) with one RBI in the series.
Other Yankees that struggled include catcher Russell Martin (5-31), outfielder Curtis Granderson (3-30, 16 strikeouts), and even backup third baseman Eric Chavez (0-16, 8 strikeouts). Both Rodriguez and Granderson sat out of the decisive game 4.
They hit at a historically low rate, and were swept in a playoff series for the first time since 1980, when they were taken down by the Kansas City Royals.
Being one of the most potent offenses in all of baseball, the Yankees picked the wrong time to go cold. Jeter kept the team afloat for a while, but now the ship has sunk. Time ran out on the Yankees clock, ending a once promising season. Jeter will look to bounce back strong from his gruesome injury, and lead his Yankees to their 28th championship title. But for now, he will be at home watching a different team in the world series, just like his other 24 teammates.