Raul Ibanez struck again.
The New York Yankees’ sudden slugger hit another tying homer in the bottom of the ninth inning. This one has come off Detroit closer Jose Valverde on Saturday night to lift New York into a 4-4 tie in the opener of the American League championship series.
The Tigers took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. The game was tied 4-4 after 10 innings and not over in time for this edition.
Three batters after Ichiro Suzuki hit a two-run shot of Valverde to cut the Yankees’ deficit in half, Ibanez connected for his second tying homer of this postseason and sent the game into extra innings.
Ibanez started his powerful week against Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson in the ninth inning on Wednesday to send Game 3 of the division series to extra innings. Then he won it with a homer in the 12th inning.
Earlier for the Tigers, Prince Fielder had an RBI single after Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked while Doug Fister pitched gutsy five-hit ball through six innings.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez was back in the New York lineup, batting sixth, after being benched for the deciding game of the division series against Baltimore on Friday. Fans gave him a standing ovation as he walked to the plate with two outs in the first.
The 37-year-old third baseman hadn’t hit as low as sixth since Joe Torre batted him eighth in the fourth and final game of the 2006 AL division series against the Tigers, according to STATS LLC.
Both teams were coming off difficult division series that went five games. The Tigers beat the Yankees in 2006 and again last year, both times in the division series.
Andy Pettitte made his 44th postseason start. He breezed through five innings, giving up four singles, including one to Triple Crown winner Cabrera in the first.
New York won the season series between the teams 6-4.
In Game 2 this afternoon, Anibal Sanchez gets the start for Detroit. Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for New York in the first outing of his big league career on three day’s rest.