Joe Girardi was criticized for not moving the struggling, Alex Rodriguez in the Yankees lineup and stuck by his side to every media outlet.
How could he not move Rodriguez who continually proved to be one of the biggest flops in postseason history? Then again, how can you sit a future Hall of Famer, who could send the ball out of the park at any moment?
Then, Girardi decided to play a little Russian roulette, when he pinch hit for A-Rod against Jim Johnson with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees down a run. Stepping into the plate; Raul Ibanez.
With a spin of the cylinder in the revolver, Yankee Stadium went BOOM! Raul Ibanez turned on a fastball sending it into the right-field seats to tie the game. The media quickly replaced Girardi’s dunce hat, with a more appropriate King’s crown.
Ibanez sent the Yankees into extra innings, but the magic couldn’t last right?
The Orioles were almost unbeatable in these type of nail-biters this season. Baltimore had won 16 straight extra inning games and did not lose all year when leading after the seventh inning.
Every streak comes to an end, and Baltimore’s streak found its enemy in the 12th inning. WIth a lefty-lefty matchup against Brian Matusz, it seemed Ibanez had no chance of playing hero once again.
On the first pitch from Matusz, the improbable became history. Ibanez hit a no doubt, walk-off home run to center field.
The Yankees are full of playoff history and Ibanez has now put himself into the history books.
Ibanez became the first player in MLB history to not start a postseason game and hit two home runs in the same game. The Yankees showed just how deep they are, when they already have Mr. October in Derek Jeter and now have Mr. Oc-TWO-ber in Raul Ibanez.
Brian Cashman sure looks smart right now after singing the 40-year-old Ibanez, to a one-year contract worth $1.1 million.
Ibanez’s home runs propelled the Yankees to a 2-1 lead over the Orioles in the ALDS, but it also raised many questions.
Where do Ibanez and Rodriguez hit in the order now?
Girardi took a big risk by sitting A-Rod for Ibanez and he looked like a genius. It almost seems inevitable that A-Rod will be dropped in the order and there’s no way Ibanez is coming out.
A limping Derek Jeter is a big concern as well. How limited will Jeter be on the field and at the plate if he has a lingering injury? Hell, I’d put Ibanez at shortstop after tonight! The next thing I’m waiting for is seeing him pull a Roy Hobbs and put the Bronx into darkness.
With two swings of the bat, Raul Ibanez had one of the greatest playoff performances in baseball history, and Mr. Oc-TWO-ber was born.