For one night, Raul Ibanez was the greatest hitter of all time.
Pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez -- who many predicted would someday hold that title -- in the bottom of the ninth, Ibanez launched a home run into the right-field stands at Yankee Stadium to tie the game. Then, improbably, impossibly, he hit another in the 12th inning, sending New York into a frenzy and the Yankees home winners.
Joe Girardi's decision to pinch-hit Ibanez for his No. 3 hitter last night paid off, but the Yankees skipper will now have to wrestle with whether or not to keep Rodriguez out of the lineup for longer. After all, when he was benched for Ibanez, A-Rod was batting just .083 in the series with seven strikeouts in 12 at-bats.
Rodriguez's postseason failures have been largely overblown (he is batting .268 for his career in the playoffs) but it's undeniable that the Yankees' $275 million man is in a bit of a funk.
So far, A-Rod is saying all the right things and seems to be content with his new role as an expendable piece. However, keeping him out of the lineup for an extended period could ultimately erode the 37-year-old (former?) slugger's confidence and cripple his chances at returning to his previous form.
Should Alex Rodriguez start for the Yankees in Game 4?