MLB Notebook: ALCS off to a memorable start
Before the Tigers' victory over the Yankees in the Bronx on Saturday night, only one other League Championship Series Game 1 had gone as deep as 12 innings. Interestingly, that other contest came on the first day any teams ever played in something called a League Championship Series.
On Oct. 4, 1969, the Orioles took on the Twins at Memorial Stadium, with the hosts starting American League Cy Young Award winner Mike Cuellar in opposition to Twins 20-game winner Jim Perry. By the time the bottom of the ninth rolled around, Cuellar was gone and Perry was three outs away from a victory over an Orioles team that had won 109 games in the regular season.
But then Boog Powell stepped into the batter's box and tied things up with a home run to right-center. The Orioles went on to win the game, 4-3, in 12 innings, giving the LCS a rollicking start.
American League Championship Series: Tigers vs. Yankees
The Tigers overcame a four-run burst by the Yankees in the ninth inning and went on to defeat the Yankees, 6-4, in 12 innings.
The Tigers had most recently won an extra-inning LCS contest in Game 2 in 1984, beating the Royals, 5-3, in 11 innings. The Yankees had most recently dropped an extra-inning LCS game in Game 3 in 2009, losing to the Angels, 5-4, in 11 innings.
The Yankees had tied the score at 4-4 on two-run home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez. This game marked the third time in postseason history a team had hit multiple home runs in the ninth inning, with the second of the two tying the game or putting the team ahead. Details from the first two contests:
1976 National League Championship Series, Game 3: The Reds opened the bottom of the ninth trailing, 6-4, and got solo home runs from George Foster and Johnny Bench to begin the frame. Cincinnati then got a single from Ken Griffey in that same inning to win the game.
1986 ALCS, Game 5: The Red Sox began the top of the ninth down, 5-2, to the Angels. Don Baylor hit a two-run home run to get the Red Sox to within a run. Dave Henderson hit a two-run home run to give Boston a 6-5 lead. The Red Sox went on to win the game in 11 innings.
Ibanez's home run gave him three this postseason that have come in the ninth inning or later and have tied the game or put his team ahead. Ibanez is the first player with three such home runs in a single year. Four other players have had two:
Henderson, 1986: one in ALCS (Game 5), one in World Series (Game 6)
Kirk Gibson, 1988: one in NLCS (Game 4), one in World Series (G1)
David Ortiz, 2004: one in AL Division Series (Game 3), one in ALCS (Game 4)
Alex Rodriguez, 2009: one in ALDS (Game 2), one in ALCS (Game 2)
Bench was the only other player to have three such postseason homers in his career. Bench hit his first (a game-tying shot) in the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 1972 NLCS. He then hit a game-ending home run in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the '73 NLCS. His third came in Game 3 of the 1976 NLCS, when his ninth-inning shot tied the game.
Ibanez's two-run home run Saturday also marked the fifth in an LCS game that came in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. The other four:
Powell (Orioles): solo shot in Game 1 of the 1969 ALCS
Bench (Reds): solo shot in Game 5 of the 1972 NLCS
Bench (Reds): solo shot in Game 3 of the 1976 NLCS
Sammy Sosa (Cubs): two-run home run in Game 1 of the 2003 NLCS
Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson went 2-for-6 with a double and triple. He was the 12th leadoff hitter in postseason history with one of each in a game, and the first since Derek Jeter in Game 4 of the 2010 ALCS.
This series marks the fourth time the Tigers have played in a best-of-seven ALCS. In 1987, they dropped Game 1 and lost the series in five games. In 2006, they won Game 1 on their way to a sweep. Last year, they lost Game 1 and went on to lose in six games.
Since 1985 (the first year the LCS was played in a best-of-seven format), the Yankees have gone 7-3 in ALCS openers. In the two previous instances when they lost a Game 1 (2000, '03) they went on to win the pennant.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.