The New York Yankees vanquished the Baltimore Orioles 16-straight extra inning win streak, and gun for the American League Championship series Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
New York veteran Raul Ibanez’s pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning tied Game 3 and he followed up with another blast in the 12th for a thrilling 3-2 win, giving New York a 2-1 series lead and the chance to reach their second ALCS in three seasons.
Subbing in for the beleaguered Alex Rodriguez, Ibanez knocked his first home run off of Orioles closer Jim Johnson, and then tagged reliever Brian Matusz for the game-winner. Johnson has now given up five earned runs in the ninth inning in three appearances during the series.
Shortstop Derek Jeter was 2-for-4 with an RBI triple, but fouled a ball of his left foot in the first inning and continued to play despite an obvious hobble. Manager Joe Girardi later removed Jeter after the eighth for Jayson Nix.
Jeter suffered a bone bruise, but will DH Thursday night with Nix starting at shortstop.
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Ibanez became the oldest player ever to have a multi-homerun game in the postseason, filling in for Rodriguez who had never been pulled from a playoff game before.
Baltimore will rest its entire season on lefty Joe Saunders who is 3-1 with a 5.82 ERA against New York, but went 5 2/3 innings and allowed just one run in the Orioles win over the Texas Rangers in the wild card one-game elimination round.
Rodriguez, who is still expected to be in the lineup despite his struggles, could redeem himself Thursday against Saunders, knocking seven hits in 16 career at bats against the lefty.
Game 3 saw the Orioles smash their first home runs of the series, with second baseman Ryan Flaherty rounding the pads in the 3rd for a 1-0 lead, and third baseman Manny Machado knocking a moonshot 407 feet to left center to take back the lead at 2-1 in the fifth.
Both runs were also the first time Baltimore had scored on a hit other than a single in the series.
The Orioles finding the power in their swing could spell trouble for Yankees right hander Phil Hughes, who will make his first start of the postseason Thursday. Hughes let up the second most homeruns in the majors this season with 35.
For the season, Hughes went 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA, including a 2-2 record and 4.76 ERA against Baltimore.
Prediction: Baltimore has had their back against the wall for most of the season, and even though a loss like Game 3’s should crush a team, the Orioles have proven their resiliency throughout 2012. The Yankees need Hughes to have better command of his pitches if they hope to end the series early, but the Orioles should force a Game 5.
Predicted Score: Baltimore 5, New York 4