Yanks must continue on without the Captain

The one sight no Yankees fan ever wants to see was the one remaining from Saturday night’s ALCS Game 1 loss to the Tigers. Derek Jeter was assisted off the field by manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue. It was not difficult to determine which loss was greater.

The Yanks’ extra-inning magic this postseason hit a snag as Detroit atoned for blowing a 4-0, ninth ninth-inning lead by winning, 6-4, in the 12th. That was also the inning when Jeter fell to the ground in pain while fielding a ground ball that became an infield single for Jhonny Peralta.

X-rays revealed a fractured left ankle, which knocks the game’s greatest postseason player from the postseason. It is a crushing blow for the Yankees, who had stirring moments Saturday night, all in the ninth inning when two-run home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez (yes, that man again) off Tigers closer Jose Valverde evaporated a 4-0 deficit.

Jeter’s left foot has presented problems for several weeks. He has been playing with a bone bruise since mid-September, fouled a ball off another portion of the foot during the ALDS. Now this. There was no talk of surgery yet, but the prognosis with or without an operation is a three-month recovering period.

“Jeet has always been as tough a player as I’ve ever seen,” Girardi said. “And you know what he showed was toughness. I mean, even when we went to the field, and I was going to carry him in, he said, “No, do not carry me.’ He is going to play through injuries and everything. And you can see the disappointment in his face.”

Girardi had a flashback to when Mariano Rivera collapsed on the warning track in Kansas City back in May while shagging a fly ball that resulted in a blown-out anterior cruciate ligament that ended his season.

“It brought me back there,” Girardi said. “Oh, boy, if he is not getting up, something’s wrong. We have seen what he played through in the last month and a half and the pain he has been in and how he found a way to get it done. Just like Mo said, we have to move on. Some people left us for dead when Mo went down, and here we are in the ALCS. I’m said for him because I know how much he loves to play and play in these type of situations, but he would tell us, “Let’s go!”

How the Yankees will go remains to be seen. They will activate Eduardo Nunez to take Jeter’s ALCS roster spot, but Girardi did not say whether Nunez or Jayson Nix will play shortstop. It is likely that Suzuki would inherit the leadoff spot, but that is only speculation. Not to belittle the ability of Nunez or Nix, neither is anywhere near comparable to Jeter. Even when Mo got hurt, the Yankees could turn to someone like Rafael Soriano, who led the league in saves one year.

The truth is, there is simply no way to replace Derek Jeter. The Yankees will just have to figure out a way to overcome this loss the rest of the way.

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