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.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.