Raul Ibanez is, quite clearly, some kinda sorcerer.
The 40-year-old magic man just swatted a game-tying two-run homer to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning, pushing this ALCS Game 1 against the Tigers into extra innings. The Yankees were down four runs when the frame began but had little trouble tracking Jose Valverde’s lifeless deliveries and charged back to keep hope alive. Ichiro Suzuki got the scoring started, also contributing a two-run blast.
Ibanez, who played the hero with two clutch bombs in last week’s ALDS Game 3 defeat of the Orioles, is now 6-for-13 (.462) this postseason.
He batted just .240 with a .308 on-base percentage in 425 plate appearances this summer.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Nationals will ask to speak with Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora after the American League Championship Series concludes on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the news that club manager Dusty Baker will not be returning to the team in 2018.
Cora, 42, has some experience in the Nationals’ organization. He played for the Nats during his last big league stint in 2011, batting .224/.287/.276 through 91 games before announcing his retirement in the spring of 2012. Per Cafardo, he was also offered a player development gig with the club, but has not appeared in any kind of official role with them since his days as a major league infielder. While he’s been lauded for his leadership skills and strong clubhouse presence, he hasn’t acquired any managerial experience since his retirement, save for a handful of games with the Astros where he filled in for A.J. Hinch.
Despite the appeal of having a familiar face in the dugout, the Nationals aren’t the only ones eyeing Cora. The Astros’ coach has already interviewed with the Tigers, Mets and Red Sox this month. Boston appears to be the current favorite to land him and according to at least one source, may even announce his hiring in advance of the World Series next Tuesday.