Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Yankees 3, Orioles 2, 12 innings

NEW YORK — Joe Girardi had seen enough of Alex Rodriguez. His decision, perhaps the boldest of his managerial career, wound up saving the Yankees.

Raul Ibanez lined a tying solo home run while pinch-hitting for Rodriguez in the ninth then hit a leadoff homer in the 12th, giving New York a stunning 3-2 win over the Orioles on Wednesday night for a 2-1 lead in their AL Division Series.

Batting for baseball's highest-paid player, Ibanez homered to right-center with one out in the ninth inning off major-league saves leader Jim Johnson to tie it at 2. He connected on the first pitch from Brian Matusz in the 12th.

Ibanez became the first player to homer twice in a postseason game in which he didn't start, STATS LLC said.

Baltimore had won 16 straight extra-inning games and had been 76-0 when leading after seven.

"It was a great experience. We do it as a team. We stay after it," Ibanez said. "I'm blessed to come up and have the opportunity like that."

It was the first time A-Rod had been pinch-hit for in the postseason, according to STATS.

"You have to make some decisions sometimes that are tough decisions. I just had a gut feeling," Girardi said.

From centerfield, the Orioles' Adam Jones said, "(the switch-off to Ibanez) caught me off guard, pinch-hitting for a guy who's half a billionaire."

Rodriguez, who has 647 career home runs, was 1-for-12 with no RBIs and seven strikeouts in this series when pulled.

"He said, 'Do what you got to do,' " Girardi said of Rodriguez's reaction. "You're going to be asked a lot of questions if it doesn't work."

"I love Joe," Rodriguez said. "I'm a leader of this team; maybe 10 years ago I might've had a much different reaction. But right now it's team, team, team. That's all we care about."

Rodriguez said Ibanez's two home runs "couldn't have happened to a better guy."

The Orioles appeared poised to move within a game of their first trip to the AL Championship Series since 1997.

But Ibanez hit a 1-and-0 pitch into the seats in the ninth, setting off a raucous celebration in what had been a demoralized crowd. Rodriguez led the cheers, raising an arm in the dugout and high-fiving injured star Mariano Rivera.

"He said great job. A-Rod is a great teammate and great team player," Ibanez said. "He's the first one on the top step congratulating you. It's about winning. It's about the Yankees and continuing."

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