Déjà vu: Ibañez does it it again, but Yankees lose -- [thrice]
If the games had ended on a happier note, "Rah-ool! Rah-ool!" might have become the defining chant of the 2012 postseason, just like "Reg-gie! Reg-gie!" was in 1977. In Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, the Detroit Tigers had a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning, and prospects for the home team seemed bleak. That's when Ichiro Suzuki and then Raúl Ibañez both hit two-run home runs, the latter tying the game just like he did in ALDS Game 3; see Oct. 11. In the 12th inning, however, the Tigers got two runs off a double by Delmon Young, and then tragedy struck. Shortstop Derek Jeter somehow twisted and broke his ankle while fielding a ground ball, meaning he will be out for the rest of the year. Final score: Tigers 6, Yankees 4. Then the Tigers beat the Yankees 3-0 in ALCS Game 2, [thanks to an RBI groundout by Delmon Young in the seventh inning, and a blown call by an umpire that gave them two more runs in the eighth.] That puts the Yankees in very bad shape as the series shifts to Comerica Park in Detroit for the next three games.
Here's a curious factoid: Attendance at Games 1 and 2 at Yankee Stadium (II) game was 47,122 and 47,082, respectively, which is only slightly over a thousand more than there were at NLDS Game 5 at Nationals Park (45,966). Surely they could have drawn more fans to see the Yankees play at home in The Bronx.
UPDATE: In ALCS Game 3 tonight, neither Derek Jeter (injured) nor Alex Rodriguez nor Nick Swisher were in the Yankees' lineup. Very strange. The Tigers had a 2-0 lead going into the ninth inning, thanks to a home run by Delmon Young and an RBI double by Miguel Cabrera, as well as another splendid outing by starting pitcher Justin Verlander. But in the final frame the leadoff batter Eduardo Nuñez fought off several foul balls before hitting a home run, and Phil Coke came in as relief pitcher. Two outs and two singles later, guess who came up to the plate? ¡Raúl Ibañez! This time there was to be no game-changing magic, however, as Coke struck him out to end the game and earn the save. So instead of being on the comeback trail, the Yankees are in a deep hole, on the brink of elimination. Who ever heard of a team coming back from a 0-3 deficit to win a league championship series? Oh, yeah...
Cards, Giants split 1-1
The St. Louis Cardinals emerged from their historic comeback win over the Washington Nationals in NLDS Game 5 by beating the Giants in AT&T Park, 6-4. Both teams had four-run rallies in the fourth inning, and the Giants almost added a fifth run but for a diving catch by [second baseman Daniel Descalso, who threw to shortstop Pete Kozma to end the inning]. In NLCS Game 2, the Giants came back with a 7-1 victory, once again with a four-run fourth inning rally, thereby evening the series. There was a controversial call [in the eighth inning by the first base umpire, allowing two more Giants to score], but it probably didn't affect the outcome.
The mail bag
More news from Mike Zurawski: The Chicago Cubs are going to squeeze another row of seats behind home plate at Wrigley Field. That might make sense in the small portion directly behind home plate and to the left, but otherwise it's already too tight. I don't like it. See bleedcubbieblue.com.
Art Miller is upset and bewildered that no one knows where the original Yankee Stadium home plate was. In places like the former Forbes Field, there are historical markers showing the location of home plate. If anyone knows, please share that information.
(Several edits for grammar, detail, clarity, etc. were made after initial posting.)