The Magic of Raul

October 13, 2012 – I never thought I’d be writing about the magic of Raul Ibanez, but in one of the most incredible turn of events in baseball history, the 40-year-old part-time DH has now tied two postseason games with bottom of the ninth home runs in the span of four days. Of course, Ibanez not only tied ALDS Game 3 with a home run, but he went on to hit a game-winning long-ball in his next at bat.

It’s difficult to choose which of the game-tying home run was more exciting, but because I’m in the moment, I’m going to label tonight’s ninth inning heroics against Detroit closer Jose Valverde as the most thrilling moment of the season.

The Yankees hadn’t scored a run through eight innings, and they were losing 4-0. A large number of fans had left the game after the seventh inning, and even more ran for the exits at the end of the eighth. The once vibrant postseason atmosphere was subdued, and it seemed as if the game was just being played out.

Then came the bottom of the ninth.

For the fourth time in this postseason, Ichiro came up with a huge hit. This time, with Russell Martin on first base, Ichiro smashed a two-run home run into the right-field seats to bring the Yankees within two.

That’s when the Stadium came back to life, as fans began to believe the Yankees had a shot.

With two outs, Mark Teixeira worked the count full and watched as Valverde missed the plate for ball four.

That brought the hero of the ALDS to the plate, and again Ibanez came through. This time, he hit a high drive to right field, and it took what seemed like an hour for the ball to get out of the ballpark. As the Tigers right fielder moved toward the outfield wall, the crowd held its collective breathe. A few seconds later, the Stadium erupted in a wild celebration as the ball landed a few rows beyond the part of the padded wall that features the scoreboard.

Regardless of the outcome of this game, the Yankees got to the Tigers fragile-minded closer. Assuming that Valverde will again be called upon in this series, the damage that the Yankees caused tonight will have a lasting impact in the ALCS.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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