NEW YORK -- A play before the Yankees lost their captain Sunday morning, they effectively lost the game.
Some bright lights led to a right-field whiff for Nick Swisher and the go-ahead run for the Tigers in Detroit's opening salvo of the American League Championship Series, a 6-4 win in 12 innings.
One batter after Delmon Young's liner escaped the streaking Swisher's reach, Derek Jeter was lost for the season to a left ankle fracture.
"I thought I got a great jump on it, man, and I just got caught right up in the lights," Swisher said. "And I just went completely blind. It kind of handcuffed me, and I didn't even see it for the last 5, 10 feet."
Swisher reached for the ball and it appeared that, if his glove had been in the right spot, he could have snagged it. But Swisher's extended right hand was well above the sinking drive, and after missing it, he went into a tuck-and-roll. The somersault didn't affect the play, because center fielder Brett Gardner was right there and Miguel Cabrera wasn't going to have a problem scoring from second to make it 5-4 on a ball that two-hopped the wall. But it was peculiar.
"I feel like I got a great jump," Swisher said. "Shading him a little to the back side, just right in those lights."
At least Swisher didn't stop short that time. He already had been a goat in the field on another Young RBI hit, one struck much lighter in the sixth inning. It had the same outcome: Cabrera scored from second.
Combined with Swisher's persistent and immense struggles at the plate in the postseason, he was booed by night's end. He went 1-for-5 with an eighth-inning double, giving him a .130 batting average in this year's playoffs. That's actually higher than what he began the day with: .111.
The double could've provided more redemption if it led to a run, which, of course, is no fault of Swisher's.
The soft blooper Cabrera hit in the sixth, the first play in question, put Detroit ahead 2-0. Swisher had to run in and toward the foul line. He pulled up just in front of the ball, and it appeared if he had kept running -- or if he dived -- he could've had that one, too.
He didn't deny that possibility.
"That's a tough call," Swisher said when asked if he should have dived. "It's kind of an in-the-moment type thing. If I dive and miss that ball, maybe runners go to second and third. But I guess now, looking back, maybe it would've been a good idea."