Ibanez the hero in extra innings
Raul Ibanez and the New York Yankees are quite fond of their position – leaving the chasing to the Birds.
Ibanez tied it with a pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth inning, then had an RBI single in the 12th, helping the Yankees remain a game up on Baltimore in the AL East with one game to go by beating the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Tuesday night.
”We stuck together. We stayed after them, and we were able to pull it out,” Ibanez said. ”It’s crunch time for us, and we all know that.”
With a second comeback spurred by Ibanez in the last 10 days, the Yankees need a win or Orioles loss on the final day of the season to secure their 13th division title since 1996. The Orioles beat Tampa Bay 1-0 earlier.
If the teams end up even after Wednesday’s games, they’ll play a tiebreaker Thursday in Baltimore.
”If you win, you win the division. That’s the bottom line,” manager Joe Girardi said. ”And we have the chance to have the best record, and that’s the bottom line and that’s a good feeling that you can control that.”
The Yankees kept missing chances on a foggy, rainy night. They were 0-58 when trailing after eight innings this season before rallying in the ninth.
Curtis Granderson led off the ninth with a single off closer Andrew Bailey and Ibanez lined a shot to right field to make it 3-all.
Ibanez came up again with two outs in the 12th against Andrew Miller (3-2) following a walk to Francisco Cervelli in his first plate appearance of the year and a free pass to Granderson.
The 40-year-old first-year Yankee then hit a grounder out of the reach of shortstop Jose Iglesias and Cervelli flopped into home plate with a slide he said he couldn’t explain.
”I must’ve thanked Ibanez 100 times,” said Mark Teixeira, who was 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. ”Raul is my favorite player right now. I guarantee I’m the happiest guy on the team because it could not have gone worse for me personally, but we won.”
The Yankees ran out to first base to mob Ibanez, who had a tying two-run homer against Oakland in the 13th inning on Sept. 22. He was doused with a bucket of ice water during a postgame interview.
”It was really cold. My back was numb for a while,” Ibanez said, ”but it felt good.”
Derek Lowe (9-11) pitched two innings for the win.
While the Orioles were pursuing the Yankees in the standings, Lowe’s outing was delayed briefly in the 12th by another kind of bird. A member of the grounds crew, using a bucket, chased a bird that landed on the infield and was reluctant to fly off.
Tying a season high with their seventh straight loss, the Red Sox dropped to 69-92, ensuring they will finish in last place in the East for the first time since 1992.
”We didn’t start the season to finish fifth … or fourth, or third, or second …,” manager Bobby Valentine said.
The Yankees had at least one hit in each of the first six innings before the top three in the batting order went out successively in the seventh against Junichi Tazawa.
After Ibanez’s homer, they loaded the bases against Bailey in the ninth but Mark Melancon relieved and got Teixeira to pop up to an outfield playing in and Robinson Cano to ground out.
Ibanez has 19 homers this season, 10 of them tying the game or putting New York a lead.
Managing as if this were a playoff game, Girardi used much of his well-rested bullpen. He called on Rafael Soriano for the ninth, trailing 2-1, and the closer gave up a leadoff homer to James Loney, rankling many of the 41,564 who stayed through the rain.
He also pitched the 10th, walking one batter. It was the first time this season Soriano pitched more than 1 1-3 innings. Soriano threw 43 pitches, his most since Sept. 25, 2005.
”Hopefully, he feels OK tomorrow if I need him,” Girardi said. ”I’ve said it all along and I’ll say it again: trying to win the division.”
Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia were back in Boston’s lineup a day after sitting out of a 10-2 loss and immediately made an impact. Ellsbury, who sat against left-hander CC Sabathia, singled and scored from first on a double to right-center by Pedroia, playing with a broken left ring finger. Cody Ross added a sacrifice fly against David Phelps for a 2-0 lead.
”He had great at-bats all night. He’s an amazing character,” Valentine said.
Eduardo Nunez had an RBI single off Jon Lester after Granderson reached on an infield hit, advanced to second on a throwing error by third baseman Pedro Ciriaco on the play and then stole third base.
Teixeira grounded out with runners on first and second to end the fifth and was booed by the many fans who remained in their seats.
The Yankees had runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh against Rich Hill and Ichiro Suzuki came up to chants of ”Ich-iro!” He hit a sharp line drive to center field that was caught by Ellsbury.
NOTES: Yankees top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos is scheduled to have reconstructive surgery on his left elbow Thursday. Dr. James Andrews will perform the Tommy John surgery. The 21-year-old Banuelos is expected to miss the 2013 season. … Boston entered the game 24 games out of first place. The previous time they were that far out was after games of Sept. 22, 1969. … Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-6) faces New York’s Hiroki Kuroda (15-11) in the regular-season finale.