Angels DH Raul Ibanez joined the 2,000-hit club in a big way in Saturday night’s game against the Mets. With closer Jose Valverde on the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning to protect a 6-3 Mets lead, the Angels mounted a two-out rally. David Freese singled, then Erick Aybar walked to bring up the 41-year-old Ibanez. Ibanez took a ball, then took Valverde deep to right-field for a game-tying three-run home run to tie the game at six apiece.
In case you think the scene sounds familiar, you’re right. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS, Valverde (then with the Tigers) served up a game-tying two-run home run to Ibanez (then with the Yankees) to tie the game at four-all. History seems to have repeated itself.
With nine more runs batted in, Ibanez will become the 88th player in baseball history with 2,000 hits, 300 home runs, and 1,200 RBI in his career.
The lineups for the Red Sox-Yankees game for this evening were just released and, lo and behold, Aaron Judge is back in it for the Yankees. He’ll be batting second and playing right field.
Judge was activated four days ago but had been limited to defense and base running. As of yesterday signs pointed to him not hitting today, but he took swings in a simulated game for the second straight day today — taking advantage of the previously-scheduled day game being moved to this evening — and things must’ve gone well.
Judge has been out since late July due to a fractured wrist suffered when he was hit by a fastball from Royals pitcher Jakob Junis. He has taken longer than expected to recover from the injury and the Yankees have felt his absence as he was hitting .285/.398/.548 with 26 home runs and 61 RBI in 447 plate appearances when he went down and no one has, obviously, been able to replace his production.
Now he’s back to help the Yankees fend off the A’s for the top Wild Card spot.