NEW YORK — Delirious only minutes earlier, fans at Yankee Stadium sat stunned in utter disbelief while they watched Derek Jeter being helped off the field, his left leg dangling.
Their worst fears were met, too. The durable captain broke his left ankle in the 12th inning of the AL Championship Series opener Saturday night and is out for the rest of the postseason.
“It’s kind of crushing,” outfielder Nick Swisher said.
Three innings after Raul Ibanez sent the 47,122 in Yankee Stadium into a frenzy with a tying two-run homer, the New York shortstop silenced the crowd when he went down and didn’t get up after making a tumbling stop on Jhonny Peralta’s grounder.
Jeter took four steps to his left for the sharp grounder, landing hard on his left foot, falling and wincing in pain as he flipped the ball toward second base. He then rolled onto his stomach, and a collective gasp was heard when the player who symbolizes championship baseball didn’t get up.
Jeter remained on his side, rolling slightly, as trainer Steve Donahue and manager Joe Girardi checked him out. He was helped up, and he put an arm around Girardi and Donahue.
“You can see the disappointment in his face,” Girardi said after the 6-4 loss.
NIX IN: When Jayson Nix signed a minor league contract with the Yankees in the off-season, starting at shortstop in place of Jeter in the postseason was hardly in his mind.
Still, throughout the year he was always prepared for the moment he might have to replace big stars.
“These are the things I have to consider,” Nix said before Game 2 of the ALCS. “A certain guy goes down, I’m up. If Robbie (Cano) goes down or Derek goes down or Alex (Rodriguez) goes down, I’ve got to play.”
NO NERVES: There was one thing that had San Francisco pitcher Ryan Vogelsong just a bit nervous before he made his postseason debut last week in the NL Division Series: a lack of nerves.
Vogelsong expected a few jitters before his Game 3 start at Cincinnati and was surprised when they weren’t there.
“That worried me a little bit because in the past when I’ve been in some not quite as big games as that, but throughout the regular season and a little bit last year and some stuff in the past with me in Japan, the nerves are usually good,” he said. “I didn’t have any, really.”