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September 27, 2017

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Tigers overcome Yankees heroics, Jeter pops ankle

NEW YORK -- Delmon Young hit an RBI double that sparked a two-run 12th inning to help lift the Detroit Tigers to a 6-4 win over the New York Yankees in the opening game of their American League Championship series.

Young drove in three runs on three hits, including a solo home run for the Tigers, who overcame a disastrous ninth-inning from closing pitcher Jose Valverde.

"We had the lead and we lost it but we kept our composure and got some runs," Young said.

Jhonny Peralta also posted three hits as Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series to determine the American League's representative in the 2012 World Series.

Game 2 is set for Sunday, with Japan's Hiroki Kuroda starting for the Yankees against Detroit ace Anibal Sanchez.

Valverde gave up two-run homers to Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez as the Yankees tied the game 4-4 in the ninth in front of a crowd of 47,122 at Yankee Stadium.

"We got it. We never lost our focus," said Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera. "That is the beautiful thing about baseball, anything can happen."

New York managed little offense against Tiger pitchers Octavio Dotel and Drew Smyly in extra innings. Smyly earned the victory with two scoreless innings of one-hit ball.

David Phelps suffered the loss for the Yankees, surrendering two runs on three hits in the 12th inning.

The Yankees lost more than just a game as captain Derek Jeter suffered a broken left ankle and will miss the remainder of the postseason.

"It's fractured. He's out," said Yankees' manager Joe Girardi. "They are talking about a three-month recovery but it won't jeopardize his career."

Jeter broke his ankle while trying to snag a grounder in the final inning.

"Jeter has always been the toughest player I have ever been around," Girardi said. "Even when I went out there and was going to carry him in, he said 'no don't carry me.' You could see the disappointment in his face."

Japan's Suzuki batted four-for-six and Ibanez hammered his third homer of the playoffs as part of a two-for-five game.

They were the bright spots for New York who stranded 13 runners on base and failed to score in three bases-loaded situations. New York, who hit a league best 245 homers in the regular season, is trying to win its 28th World Series title.

Valverde has struggled this postseason as the Tigers' closing pitcher and manager Jim Leyland said the coaches will get together Sunday to discuss Valverde's difficulties.

"We are going to talk about it as a coaching staff," Leyland said.

Girardi didn't want to make light of Jeter's injury but said it could be a chance for someone else to step in and show what they can do.

Jeter led the majors this season with 216 hits.

"Anyone would admit we have a better chance with Jeter but sometimes one man's injury is another man's opportunity," Girardi said. "Someone has to do well with this opportunity. We have to move on. We are trying to win a series here."

Jeter's injury could open the door for Yankees' Alex Rodriguez who hasn't seen much action in the postseason.

Manager Girardi used a pinch hitter for three-time AL MVP Rodriguez in games three and four of the first round series and benched him in favour of Eric Chavez in the crucial fifth game.

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