Peralta starts the sixth with a base hit up the middle, ending the perfect game and the no-hitter. More importantly, the Tigers have the leadoff man on, and it feels as though any run Detroit scores will feel like 10 runs given the state of the Yankee offense. Avila sends one toward the middle that could have been a double play ball, but Hiroki Kuroda instinctively made a reach for it and nicked it. It goes to Jayson Nix, who makes a good play to throw Avila out at first. Peralta is now in scoring position, so the Tigers will have at least two cracks at taking the lead. Omar Infante fouls a bunt, then grounds out to Alex Rodriguez at third base, holding Peralta at second. Kuroda's not out of trouble yet though; he must get Austin Jackson out, no easy task. After a few pitches, Jackson sends another one to the left side, to "Nixy." Inning over. Phew.
Can Ichiro get something going for the offense in the sixth? Do it for your noble teammate and countryman, Ichiro! He grounds one toward the middle, but Anibal Sanchez fumbles it and Ichiro narrowly beats the throw to first. This seems like a perfect opportunity for Ichiro to get himself into scoring position with a timely steal. Cano is looking to finally break his hitless streak, which has reached the number on his back, 24. He fouls off two changeups, takes a ball outside, then dribbles one toward first with Ichiro going on a hit-and-run. It would have been hard to turn a double play anyway, but at least Cano stayed out of that. He's extended his hitless drought to an all-time playoff worst 0-for-25. Woof.
A runner is in scoring position with Mark Teixeira and Raul Ibanez coming up. These days, it's pretty much an ideal setup since they are two of the only batters doing much of anything. No such luck with Tex, who grounds out to shortstop with Ichiro going to third anyway. The Tigers elect to walk Ibanez, which is probably a good plan since righthanded Russell Martin is coming up. If Russ could come with a thousand-hopper up the middle to bring home a run, this crowd would be ecstatic. He has shown a propensity for big moments this season. Let's see if he can do it again. Sanchez jumps ahead 0-2 on a pair of called strikes. The outlook is bleak. Martin check-swings on a 1-2 pitch and it goes toward Peralta at shortstop, who throws him out. Sigh. Still scoreless through six.
The Yankees will ask Kuroda to give them a seventh scoreless inning on three days' rest. He's only thrown 71 pitches so far, but will face Miggy and Prince this inning. Gulp. Of course the guy I don't think about, Quintin Berry, gets a ground-rule double to deep center. Now the Tigers really have a chance to break the tie with Miggy and Prince coming up, and the outlook is, once again, bleak. HIROK gets ahead of Miggy on two foul balls, throws one in the dirt, and Miggy fouls another one to Martin's mitt. Unfortunately, Russ cannot hold onto it and the at bat continues. These situations are where Miggy made his money this year, leading the AL in RBI. He singles to right field, but fortunately, it's hit too hard for even the speedy Berry to score.
The Yankees must now decide whether or not to play at double play depth for Fielder or go infield in to cut off the runner at the plate. A run would score on the double play, but even a sole run might beat the Yankees today. A strikeout here would be huge if Kuroda can manage it. He throws one up, then gets Prince to chase a splitter outside and foul one low for a second strike. Prince checks his swing on one low that Martin can't hold onto; Kuroda thought he went. Kuroda bounces another one and we've reached a full count on Fielder. The biggest pitch of the game thus far is coming up. STRIKE THREE SWINGING on a splitter out of the zone.
Now, the Yankees can play at double play depth without worrying about the runner on third with Delmon Young at the plate. He's been a thorn in the Yankees' side the past two postseasons. The top pick of the '03 draft fouls a sinker low for strike one, then whiffs on a 93 mph fastball. Young's struck out against Kuroda twice already, and Kuroda would love to give him the hat trick. He fouls one high down the right field line that Tex nearly gets to in the stands, but a fan takes it from him. It's probably for the best though, since Berry would have scored on one that deep anyway. Still 0-2, and Young chops one slowly to short. It might have been possible to turn two, but Cano could not get a throw off. Berry scores to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead, as Cano hurts the Yankees again, this time on defense. What a horrible October he's had. Dirks grounds out to end the inning, but the one run is enough to make fans feel uncomfortable.
The Yankees need just one run to tie the game up and get Kuroda off the hook. He's pitched seven beautiful three-hit innings on three days' rest; it would be a real shame if he took a loss. Three home run hitters will come up in the bottom of the seventh, but it's that same disappointing trio of A-Rod, Grandy, and Swish again. A-Rod lines out to left to begin the seventh, but Granderson walks on five pitches! Is something brewing? One can only hope so. Here comes Swisher. It feels extremely unlikely, but so many people would be ecstatic if he took one out. He falls behind 0-2 within two pitches though, and he strikes out on a breaking pitch. Granderson did swipe second though, so Jayson Nix will have an opportunity to make like Derek Jeter and come up with a huge hit. Sanchez throws two out of the zone to give Nix an advantage. Now he's over 100 pitches and might be getting weary. The count is evened up at 2-2, and goes to full after the sixth pitch, Sanchez's 109th of the day. Ichiro is on deck, so it's up to Sanchez to get the last hitter of the order out without facing the lefty threat. Alas, Nix strikes out swinging and the inning is over. RISPfail strikes again.
It's only a one-run lead for Detroit, but it feels like so much more. There are still two innings to go, though. It's not over.