The Yankees were trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth when Alex Rodriguez, who was already 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the game, was due up, but manager Joe Girardi decided to pinch hit for A-Rod with Ibanez. Girardi pushed the right button as Ibanez hit a home run deep to left field off of Orioles closer Jim Johnson to tie the game at 2-2.
The game still tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the 12th, Ibanez homered off Brian Matusz to win the game.
It took a lot of guts by Girardi to pinch hit for A-Rod considering the media would have jumped all over him if the move backfired. It turned out to be the right move though. A-Rod is 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts in the playoffs so far and the Yankees desperately needed something to happen.
But a lot of credit goes to Ibanez himself. He was slightly above average overall this season, but he was downright terrible for most of the year. Still, he finished hot and that has apparently translated into the playoffs. Tonight’s 2-for-2 performance to both tie and win the game will go down as one of the great playoff performances of all time.
None of it would have been possible if not for Hiroki Kuroda either. Kuroda looked shaky in the third and fourth innings, but when all was said and done he had a very strong 8.1 inning, two run performance. It was much needed for a struggling offense.
The 3.2 innings from Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, and David Robertson were also big. Especially D-Rob’s two scoreless. He has now pitched in all three ALDS games and been very effective each time out.
Up 2-games-to-1, he Yankees now only have to win once in the next two days. Game 4 is Thursday night with Phil Hughes going for the Yankees. Joe Saunders is likely starting for the Orioles, but that hasn’t been officially announced yet. If the series goes to five games expect a rematch between CC Sabathia and Jason Hammel.