NEW YORK – It was shocking.
The Orioles were two outs away from taking a 2-1 lead in their American League Division Series.
Shock No. 1 was when Alex Rodriguez was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the ninth and a moment later, the second shock came when his stand-in Raul Ibanez tied the game at 2 with a home run to right field off Jim Johnson
The game continued into the 12th inning, and Ibanez hit the game –winner off Brian Matusz, and the New York Yankees had a 3-2 win before 50,497 howling fans at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Orioles are a game away from elimination, and must win on Thursday and Friday to earn a chance at the American League Division Series.
“It’s pretty much win or go home tomorrow, isn’t it?” Adam Jones said.
The Orioles have scored just seven runs in three games. Jones and Matt Wieters are a combined 3-for-26.
“We’ve got to get some base hits, some guys on base,” Jones said. “We’ve got to create runs.”
Johnson allowed three home runs in the regular season. He’s given up two to the Yankees in three games. In Sunday’s first game, Johnson allowed five runs in a third of an inning.
“If you make your pitch, it really doesn’t matter,” Johnson said.
“The home runs were pretty much over the plate.”
Miguel Gonzalez pitched seven wonderful innings. Darren O’Day pitched a great eighth, and Johnson got Ichiro Suzuki to fly to left for the first out in the ninth.
Then, A-Rod, who’s just 3-for-30 in his last two postseasons, was yanked.
"That caught me off guard. Pinch hitting for a guy who's half a billionaire,” Jones said. “I guess they pushed the right button today.”
In the 12th, Ibanez hit the first pitch from Matusz into the right field stands, and the Orioles were a game away from going home.
“I just left the pitch up,” Matusz said. “We’re still in this.”
On Thursday, Joe Saunders will start against Phil Hughes.
Manager Buck Showalter chose Saunders over Chris Tillman. Saunders won Friday’s Wild Card Game in Texas.
“Joe is a guy that gives you a chance to win, and he’ll compete, and he knows we feel good with him out there,” Showalter said.
Saunders declined comment after the game.
The Yankees won the game with both A-Rod and Derek Jeter out of the game with a bone bruise to his left foot. Jeter fouled a ball off the foot and then tripled to center to drive in New York’s first run.
Jones got a poor jump on the ball and Russell Martin easily scored from second.
“I point-blank missed the ball. I don't know what happened. I thought it was where it was going to be and thought wrong at that time. It cost
us a run," Jones said.
In the regular season, the Orioles won 16 straight extra-inning games after losing their first two—both to the Yankees.
David Robertson got the win with two scoreless innings.
Johnson’s work undermined a wonderful start by Miguel Gonzalez, who allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings, walking none and striking out five.
After Gonzalez finished, Darren O’Day retired New York in the eighth in order. After O’Day struck out Jeter, he left the game.
Then, Ibanez tied it and won it.
“You never picture anything like that happening,” Wieters said.
“It's a tough situation and I'll still take our guys out there on the mound every time against them."
Showalter said he wasn’t stunned by the abrupt turn.
“Stunned left me a while ago,” he said.
“One pitch, that’s the world we live in.”
The Orioles’ two runs came on home runs hit by rookies. Ryan Flaherty hit a homerun with one out in the top of the third. It landed in the lower deck in right field.
Manny Machado led off the fifth with a home run to left field for a 2-1 lead. Prior to this game, the Orioles never had a rookie homer in a postseason game. Now, they have two. According to STATS LLC, it’s the first time rookie teammates have ever homered in a postseason game.
Both were hit off Hiroki Kuroda, who pitched 8 1/3 innings, giving up the two home runs, five hits, walking one and striking out three. He hit two batters.
If Saunders struggles, Chris Tillman will be in back of him as Showalter tries to salvage the season. Johnson, who also pitched the 10th will be available, too.
“I got to get over it quick,” Johnson said.
-Machado was the second youngest player to hit a postseason home run. The youngest is New York’s Andruw Jones, who is not on the active list for this series.