Raul Ibanez is your latest Yankees playoff hero.
The 40-year-old hit a pinch-hit game-tying solo shot in the bottom of the ninth inning, then launched another solo homer in the bottom of the 12th as New York rallied back to defeat Baltimore by a score of 3-2 in Game 3 of the ALDS on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. The Bombers now lead the series 2-1.
“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to come up like that,” Ibanez told Craig Sager of TBS in a quick postgame interview. “I’m a blessed man. I’m a blessed man. I get to play for the Yankees.”
The heroics from Ibanez spoiled a superb start by Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who allowed just one run on five hits over seven impressive innings while fanning eight and issuing no walks. It was his third straight dominant outing in The Bronx.
Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda was impressive in his own right, going 8 1/3 frames before being lifted for Boone Logan in the top of the ninth. The New York bullpen would shut out the O’s the rest of the way.
Game 4 will be played on Thursday. It’ll be Orioles lefty Joe Saunders vs. Yankees righty Phil Hughes.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.