Raul Ibanez provided another dose of postseason heroics for the Yankees on Saturday evening in Game 1 of the ALCS, but it didn’t matter in the end.
The Tigers rallied after Jose Valverde’s ugly ninth-inning blowup, tacking on two runs in the top of the 12th inning in an eventual 6-4 victory in The Bronx.
Delmon Young finished 3-for-6 with a home run, a double and three RBI, Austin Jackson had a triple, a double and a run scored, and starter Doug Fister tossed 6 1/3 innings of scoreless ball as Detroit grabbed a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven clash.
The Yankees not only failed to capitalize on what was a rousing comeback but now face a dire set of circumstances going forward in this series. Derek Jeter is done for the playoffs with a fractured left ankle and Hiroki Kuroda will be pitching on short rest in Game 2. If the Yankees can’t pull out a victory on Sunday evening, they’ll be down two games heading into Detroit, where Justin Verlander will take the ball in Game 3.
Anything can happen — as we’ve seen time and time again in this crazy sport, especially in this particular postseason — but the situation certainly looks pretty grim right now for the fellas in pinstripes.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.