Justin Verlander had done his job, pitching well enough to put his team in a position for a pivotal victory, but the final outcome was still in doubt. It was the ninth inning and Verlander, the Detroit Tigers ace, was out of the game and the closer Jose Valverde was on the mound, pitching to Derek Jeter with runners on first and second in a one-run game.
“I’m just like 45,000 other people in the stadium at that point,” Verlander said. “I’m just sitting there watching. Obviously, your heart is racing a little bit.”
Over the years the baseball world has come to expect these kinds of moments to go Jeter’s way, but on Monday it did not.
Jeter swung and missed at strike three, and with that the Tigers had beaten the Yankees, 5-4, in Game 3 of the American League division series in front of a crowd of 43,581 at Comerica Park, the stadium’s largest postseason attendance figure.