The Best Yankee Playoff Game People Never Talk About
The year is 2012. The Yankees walked their way into yet another home ALDS after cruising through the regular season with a record of 95-67. A very solid year for the Yanks, as they drew the second-place Baltimore Orioles to open the 2012 playoffs. Though 2012 may not seem like too long ago to many of us, lets take a look back: Ah 2012, a simpler time. For you historians of the internet out there 2012 was the creation year of the internet meme and sensation "Grumpy Cat".
2012 was also the year of the London Olympics where once again the US obliterated everyone in its way to take home the gold . To cap off 2012, Barack Obama was re-elected for his second term as President of the United States, because why would anyone in this country vote for a man who's first name is "Mitt". Though that may be fitting for the name of a baseball blogger I do not think anyone is any sort of power should share a name with a piece of baseball equipment. And as if this has not set you back 8 years yet, Gangnam Style is taking the world by storm as tweens everywhere are making videos of themselves that they will go onto regret 5 years later.
Alright, so I have settle stage for you, now let's get into the Yankees. This Yankees team was aging, to say the least. Heres their lineup from that year:
C- Russel Martin age 29 1B- Mark Teixeira age 32 2B- Robinson Cano age 29 SS- Derek Jeter age 38 3B- Alex Rodriguez age 36 LF - Raul Ibanez age 40 CF- Curtis Granderson age 31 RF- Nick Swisher age 31 DH- Eric Chavez age 34 (their bench also including aging outfielders Ichiro Suzuki age 38 and Andrew Jones age 35) As for there pitching staff, it was led by Hiroki Kuroda sporting a 3.32 ERA that season. The other starters included CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia (ew), and Andy Pettitte. The mean age of this six-man staff was about 34 years old. The series is tied up 1-1 as game three is taking place in the Bronx. It was pitchers duel that night as Hiroki Kuroda and Miguel Gonzalez matched each other frame for frame. The whole Yankees offense was not getting it done that night but specifically, all eyes had been on Alex Rodriguez. As he struggled down the stretch as Girardi kept giving him at-bats hoping he'd return to his regular form just in time for the playoffs. Well, that just was not the case. Arod up until this point was 1-9 in the series with an infield single as he continued to get challenged by inside fastballs that his post-steroid-using body simply could not catch up with. As we reached the bottom of the ninth the Yankees are down 2-1 and Arod is due up second. The pitcher was Jim Johnson, the O's right-handed closer who featured a nasty hard sinker which broke down and into righties at high velocity. Hey, but I'm sure Arod will figure it all out against this guy right? Wrong. Not only was Girardi pessimistic, but he did not even want to find out the result. It also might be worth adding that in game one of the series these two faced off and Johnson embarrassed Alex on 4 sinkers. Girardi pulled the struggling Arod for the older left-handed-hitting Raul Ibanez. Ibanez did not start this game as Ichiro was given the nod to roam left. For those of you who don't remember Raul, he was a left-handed bat who was never really known for his glove.
He had power and there was no denying that, as he had 305 career homers and 19 that year playing part-time. An even crazier side note the next year at AGE 41, YES AGE 41, he went on to hit 29 bombs with the Mariners, but that is beside the point. Down 2-1 Girardi had to take a shot, between Johnsons hard tumbling sinker and Ibanez's classic uppercut swing it was worth taking the chance. On a 1-0 pitch, Ibanez sent Yankee Stadium into pandemonium as he lined a shot into the right field stands to tie the game at 2. "OH RAUL---- SO COOL" said John Sterling with one of his lamer yet catchy homer run calls. And hey, before we continue let's give some props to Arod as he was the first guy out of the dugout to congratulate Ibanez even though we all know he was crying on the inside. But hey, the Yankees were alive and had hope.
The game dragged on into extras and this point I had fallen asleep. Luckily for me, the sound of my older brother chomping on Cool Ranch Doritos woke me up to watch the Yankees hit in the bottom of the 12th. As the digital scoreboard was not even loaded onto the screen yet to start the inning left-hander Brian Matusz served up a 91 MPH limp biscuit for ole' Uncle Raul to spank into the second deck in right and give the Yankees a 2-1 series lead. As this Ibanez rounded the bases with his classic full container of dip loaded in his right cheek, a legend was born in the Bronx. As for the Yanks that year they went onto win the series against the Orioles 3-2. However, they would get thrashed by the American League Pennant winning Detroit Tigers led by Miguel Cabrera 4-0 in a clean sweep in the ALCS. Though that season would be the last year Ibanez would don the pinstripes, he would go down in Yankees playoff history as one of the clutches men to ever walk in the Bronx.
If you guys want to read about more about other crazy Yankee games from the past just let me know! Either leave a comment below with suggestions or comment on my Instagram @yankeesvoice where I will be posting about this blog! Also if you want to relive this moment in Yankee playoff history click to link below to watch Raul Ibanez crush the hopes and dreams of Orioles fans everywhere. Thank you for reading. -The Commish