Late inning heroics see Yankees, A's win thrilling play-off games

Results mean both AL series will resume with three teams having a chance to advance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 2:39am


Historic home runs by Raul Ibanez rallied the New York Yankees to an unlikely Major League Baseball play-off triumph, while Coco Crisp's last-inning heroics kept Oakland's title dreams alive.

As a result, both tension-packed American League best-of-five divisional series will resume with three teams having a chance to advance and the Baltimore Orioles fighting to sustain their championship hopes.

New York's Ibanez blasted a game-winning solo homer in the 12th inning after tying the game with a solo homer in the ninth to lift the Yankees over the Orioles 3-2, giving New York a 2-1 lead in their series.

And in Oakland, the A's scored three runs in the ninth - the last on a two-out single by Crisp - to defeat Detroit 4-3 and level their best-of-five battle at 2-2, setting up a one-game showdown to advance to the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

Ibanez put himself among the play-off legends for 27-time World Series champions the Yankees, becoming the first player to hit two homers in a major league play-off game in the ninth inning or later. "It's a great experience," Ibanez said. "We stayed after it. We did it as a team. It's about team and it's about winning."

In the 12th, Ibanez smashed the ball over the rightfield wall to send the Yankees dancing out of their dugout in delight.

"I was looking for a good pitch to hit, trying to hit it hard, not trying to do too much," Ibanez said. "Fortunately for us I got a good pitch up and got a good swing on it."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi followed his instincts by electing to insert Ibanez for star hitter Alex Rodriguez.

"I just had a gut feeling," Girardi said. "You've got a left-handed hitter who's a low-ball hitter in a sense and you've got a low-ball pitcher."

At Oakland, the Athletics trailed 3-1 entering the ninth inning. But Josh Reddick led off with a single, Josh Donaldson followed with a double and Seth Smith doubled to centrefield to bring home both runners and even the score.

Detroit pitcher Jose Valverde retired the next two batters but just when the Tigers seemed ready to escape into extra innings, Crisp smacked a single to rightfield to bring home Smith with the winning run.

"Not giving up, playing until that final out - the guys in front of me did a fantastic job," Crisp said. "I'm glad the opportunity was there. We don't give up."