NEW YORK After another magical home run by Raul Ibanez tied the score with two outs in the ninth, it seemed there was nothing that could dampen the euphoria at Yankee Stadium that the 40-year-old designated hitter unleashed once again.
Three innings later, the joy of that moment transformed into an eerie silence as Derek Jeter lay motionless on the infield dirt in pain. The Detroit Tigers had already taken the lead in the 12th inning of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, but the far more sobering thought was that Jeter was seriously hurt.
Moments later he was helped off the field by manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue, holding out his left leg to avoid putting any weight on it. Girardi later said Jeter broke an ankle and would need a three-month recovery period.
The Tigers scored twice and went on to win, 6-4, in 12 innings, but the Yankees were more concerned about their captain, who has been on the field for all of their five World Series championships since 1996.
But if they are going to win their 28th World Series, they may now have to do it without Jeter or another of their championship mainstays, Mariano Rivera, their longtime closer who sustained a season-ending knee injury in May.
Jeter was hurt diving to his left to snare Jhonny Peralta's ground ball in the 12th. He caught it, but grimaced in pain and was unable to get up. The best he could do was to flip the ball on the ground to second baseman Robinson Cano, and then wait for help as Yankee Stadium went silent.
As he was carried off, the fans chanted his name.
The injury, combined with the loss, was especially hard to bear for the fans after they had witnessed a stirring comeback in the ninth inning. Ichiro Suzuki had hit a two-run home run in the ninth to make the score 4-2.
Ibanez's home run was his third in the postseason, and all of them have either tied the game in the ninth inning or won it for the Yankees in extra innings. In Game 3 of the division series he hit a pinch-hit two-run home run with one out in the ninth to tie that game, and then hit the game-winning homer in the 12th.
On Oct. 2, the second-to-last day of the regular season, when the Yankees were engaged in a fierce battle with the Orioles for first place in the American League East, Ibanez hit a two-run pinch-hit home run against the Red Sox, then hit the game-winning single in the 12th inning. In Game 5 of the division series, he smacked a critical run-scoring single.
His latest blast closely followed the two-run homer by Suzuki, who lined a shot down the right-field line. Russell Martin had singled and, after Jeter struck out, Suzuki brought the Yankees within striking distance of another iconic Ibanez moment by hitting the first postseason home run of his career.
Jose Valverde struck out Cano and then went ahead of Mark Teixeira, 0-2. But Teixeira battled the pitcher until he drew the critical walk that gave Ibanez his chance.
Saturday's game came on the heels of the Yankees' Game 5 victory over Baltimore on Friday. The Yankees went back to work Saturday hoping the momentum from their division series title would carry over into the next round of the playoffs.
Normally, there is a day off between series. But this year Major League Baseball wanted to shoehorn in an extra wild-card game and still finish the World Series by Nov. 1, and some accommodations had to be made.
So, after the Yankees finished off the Orioles on Friday, they immediately welcomed the Tigers, who had only one day off themselves after their victory over the Oakland A's in Game 5 of that series.
Andy Pettitte, making his first postseason start at home since Game 3 of the 2010 ALCS, pitched well Saturday, giving up two runs and seven hits.
Derek Lowe followed Pettitte and allowed two runs in relief as the Tigers extended their lead to 4-0.
Tigers starter Doug Fister, spinning curveballs and cut fastballs away from the Yankee bats all game, allowed the Yankees to load the bases in the first, second and sixth innings, but never yielded.
Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 3 one day after being benched for Game 5 of the division series. Girardi sent Eric Chavez to pinch hit for Rodriguez in the eighth.