Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Raul Ibanez Show

Did I say the Yankees needed Alex Rodriguez?

Well, if a little egg on my face is the price for what happened last night, then, go ahead and throw an egg.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched into the top of the 9th inning last night, in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, but the Yankees trailed the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 going into the bottom of the 9th.

It was beginning to look like do-or-die tomorrow (now today), with Phil Hughes having the whole season on his shoulders:

* Thanks to Ichiro Suzuki leaving Derek Jeter stranded on 3rd base in the 3rd, after Russell Martin had doubled and Jeter had tripled for the Yankees' 1st run.

* Thanks to Eric Chavez leaving Martin stranded on 1st with a strikeout to end the 5th.

* Thanks to the Yankees wasting a leadoff single from Jeter in the 6th, followed by an Ichiro forceout and strikeouts by A-Rod and Robinson Cano.

* And, of course, thanks to A-Rod going 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts overall.  He is now 1-for-12 in this series, with 7 strikeouts.

And so, with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th, Joe Girardi played an almost Torresque hunch, ignoring his Binder, and pulled A-Rod for a pinch-hitter.

A-Rod said no one had pinch-hit for him since grade school.

The pinch-hitter was Raul Ibanez. Forty years old, and rejected by the Phillies, because he can't field and they play in a League that is too stupid to accept the designated hitter.

Boom. Home run. Tie ballgame.

The Yankee bullpen, saved some work by Kuroda's gutsy start, held the O's through the top of the 12th.

Bottom of the 12th. Ibanez leads off.

No player had ever hit 2 home runs in a postseason game that he did not start.

But you know the old saying. No, not, "You know, Suzyn, you just can't predict baseball." I mean, "In baseball, you never know when you're going to see something you've never seen before."

Boom. No doubt about it. Second deck in right field.

Here is a list of postseason walkoff homers for the Yankees: Name, date, series, game of series, opponent, inning, balls, strikes, final score.

Tommy Henrich Oct. 5, 1949 WS1 Dodgers   9th 10 1-0
 Mickey Mantle Oct. 10, 1964   WS3 Cardinals   9th10 2-1
 Chris Chambliss   Oct. 14, 1976      ALCS  5 Royals   9th10 7-6
 Jim Leyritz Oct. 4, 1995 ALDS2 Mariners 15th21 7-5
 Bernie Williams Oct. 9, 1996 ALCS1 Orioles 11th10 5-4
 Bernie Williams Oct. 13, 1999 ALCS1 Red Sox 10th10 4-3
 Chad Curtis Oct. 26, 1999 WS3 Braves 10th10 6-5
 Alfonso Soriano Oct. 21, 2001 ALCS4 Mariners   9th21 3-1
 Derek Jeter Oct. 31, 2001 WS4 D'backs 10th12 4-3
 Aaron Boone Oct. 16, 2003 ALCS7 Red Sox 11th10 6-5
 Mark Teixeira Oct. 9, 2009 ALDS2 Twins 11th10 4-3
 Raul Ibanez Oct. 10, 2012 ALDS3 Orioles 12th10 3-2

That's 11 guys, hitting 12 such home runs -- our old friend Bernie hit 2. Chambliss and Boone are in bold because their homers won Pennants.

So, last night, the old man does it. Yankees 3, Orioles 2. I thought John Sterling was going to pop a vocal chord.

Big Daddy Graham, the Philadelphia/Jersey Shore-based comic who hosts a show on all-sports radio station WIP, said on Facebook, remembering Ibanez as a Phillie, "Are you kidding me?!"

Game 4 is tonight, at 7:30. Hughes starts against Joe Saunders. Be ready to clinch.

8 wins to go.

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