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.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.