In the backs of their minds, the Yankees knew this day was coming. They've known it for a long time and viewed it with the kind of dread we normally reserve for old age, increased taxes and the occasional basement flood.
Derek Jeter wasn't in the dugout on Sunday, and you could feel the uneasiness in every corner of Yankee Stadium, especially the clubhouse at the end of a 3-0 loss to Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers.
Sanchez should have been the story in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. He and Hiroki Kuroda hooked up in a great pitchers' duel — the kind the Yankees have had too many of this month.
Jim Leyland, the Tigers' manager, had a quaint way of praising his 28-year-old starter, acquired from the Marlins for top pitching prospect Jacob Turner in late July. He said he sometimes threw this when the Yankees were looking for that, and sometimes threw that when they were looking for this.
Kevin Long, the hitting coach for the misfiring Yankees, offered strong praise for Sanchez, who pitched the Tigers to a 2-0 lead in the series.
"Four pitches today, fastball up to 94, 95,'' Long said. "His slider was good, his changeup was very good. He's got the same arsenal as (Game 3 starter Justin) Verlander. We've got an uphill battle. We have to scratch and claw and try to turn it around.''
Sanchez's performance was much more than a footnote. But this game will be remembered most for the absence of Jeter, who broke his left ankle while fielding a grounder by Jhonny Peralta in the 12th inning on Friday night, and possibly for Joe Girardi's postgame plea for instant replay in the playoffs. Oh, yes, and also a little for Girardi heading out afterward to attend his father Jerry's funeral in Peoria, en route to Detroit.
The start of the ALCS raised more questions than it answered, and the only ones it answered were about who should face the National League champ in the World Series. The Tigers are in great position to be that team.
Yankees in strange new world without Jeter
Chicago Tribune | Oct 15