Raul Ibanez clubs two homers, enters Yankees lore in Game 3 win

Elsa - Getty Images

Alex Rodriguez was lifted in favor of pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez, and two homers later, the Yankees walked off with a win in Game 3.

The Baltimore Orioles had an unbelievable stretch of extra-inning magic going. They were the champions of one-run baseball, and they were 76-0 this season when leading after seven innings. But they had no answer for Raul Ibanez -- Raul Ibanez! -- who hit two solo homers against the Orioles' bullpen, one to tie the game in the ninth, and one to win it in the 12th, giving the Yankees Game 3 and a 2-1 series lead.

The game started with Miguel Gonzalez mowing Yankees down. Gonzalez didn't allow an earned run in April, which seems more impressive until you realize he didn't have a team in April. Gonzalez was released by the Red Sox last December. Later that offseason, the Red Sox would acquire Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva, Mark Prior, Jason Bere, Dave Mlicki, Bob Milacki, and Al Nipper for rotation depth. They did not want Miguel Gonzalez.

Gonzalez pitched well against the Yankees this season, going 2-0 against them in the regular season, with a 2.63 ERA and a 17/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 13 innings. And he was the story for the first seven innings, as he dominated the Yankees. After a Ryan Flaherty homer gave the O's an early 1-0 lead, Adam Jones misplayed a long Derek Jeter fly ball into an RBI triple:


Russell Martin scored, and that was the only blemish on Gonzalez's ledger in Game 3. A Manny Machado homer in the fifth gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead, and it made Machado the second-youngest player in baseball history to hit a postseason home run. Gonzalez kept the Yankees in check through seven strong innings before giving way to Darren O'Day, who was perfect in the eighth. O'Day begat Jim Johnson in the ninth. And then there was drama.

Let's back up a bit. Alex Rodriguez wasn't having a good night. He was striking out swinging and he was striking out with check swings. He was allowing grounders to elude his reach at third.

No, Alex Rodriguez certainly wasn't having a good night. But when it came time for him to bat in the bottom of the ninth, down by one, the Yankees tied the game up. And when his spot came up again in the 12th, they Yankees walked off winners. The twist is that it wasn't A-Rod in that spot, as Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled him back in place of a pinch-hitter, Raul Ibanez

Raul Ibanez became one of those Yankees -- the kind who'll mean something in 30 years, like Bucky Dent or Chris Chambliss. In the ninth inning, down by one, Jim Johnson left a sinker up:


And in the 12th, against Brian Matusz, he did it again.


It all came with Ibanez out of the starting lineup, and with Alex Rodriguez sitting on the bench, pulled back in favor of the oldest dude on the team.

The Yankees now have a 2-1 series lead, and Game 4 on Thursday will be a match-up between Phil Hughes and either Chris Tillman or Joe Saunders.

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