Whose Walk-off Win Was More Epic, the Yankees or the Athletics?
The Bronx Bombers sent 40-year-old pinch hitter Raul Ibanez to the plate in extra innings. He delivered in the form of a deep bomb to right center that left no doubt it would not be catchable.
The A's had to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the ninth, and got some help from an error in the outfield.
So how can one walk-off be so much better than another?
Easy. There are five reasons, actually.
A's Beat Jose Valverde, Yankees Beat Brian Matusz
Jose Valverde blew the save on Oct. 10 against the Oakland A's, allowing two singles, two doubles and three runs.
In 2012, he's 3-4 with 35 saves in 40 attempts. In 2011, he saved all 49 opportunities.
He's a really good closer. But he blew it in Game 4.
Brian Matusz was responsible for the loss against the New York Yankees in Game 3. The starting pitcher is 6-10 this year with a 4.87 ERA. He's not as good, and he came into a role which put him out of his element.
It's the Yankees, They're Supposed to Do That
The New York Yankees are the definition of postseason baseball.
They're in playoffs nearly every year. Likewise, they lead the league in payroll too. There's no reason to spend obscene amounts of money on superstars to not play in the postseason.
Raul Ibanez is a good enough player to start on many MLB teams. Instead, he's a role player and pinch hitter on the Yankees bench.
The A's meanwhile, weren't even supposed to sniff second place in the AL West. But they won the division.
They were supposed to get swept. But here they are, tied 2-2 in the ALDS.
In this situation, the Yankees are Goliath against the David-like Baltimore Orioles. The powerful team won. Conversely, it's the A's who are the underdog yet again. So their walk-off was even more unbelievable.
A Team Effort
Raul Ibanez saved the Yankees on Oct. 10. They're quite lucky to have him on their bench.
But the A's can chalk their victory up to a collaborative, team effort.
Josh Reddick has been struggling the entire ALDS. He approached the plate in the ninth with no outs, and he got a hit (only his second of the series). Based on previous experience, fans likely were expecting him to strike out.
Josh Donaldson was up next. He too has struggled. The ninth inning of Game 4, down two games to one, is a fine time to snap out of a funk with a double.
Seth Smith followed the act, doubling as well and tying the game.
Then with two outs, Coco Crisp delivered the game-winning hit to right field. And that was the ball game.
It took a couple of guys breaking out of a slump at the right time, and a quality, "never say die" effort from half the lineup.
Not to mention, Ibanez hit his with one out; Crisp's came with two outs. The more drama, the better.
Oakland's Deficit Was Larger
Down 2-1 in the ninth inning, the Yankees pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez in favor of Raul Ibanez. Ibanez hit the game-tying home run.
Later in the 12th, Ibanez struck again, this time with a home run that would end the game.
Oakland was down 3-1.
They didn't have three chances to tie the game. They had three chances to score a run, then another just to tie and a third to win.
Well, they did it.
A's Walk-off Forces Game 5
The New York Yankees won Game 3, giving them the lead in the series at 2-1. There was potential for two more games to be played if the Baltimore Orioles had won Game 3.
The A's were already down 2-1 in the ALDS beginning Game 4.
Their walk-off home run forced Game 5—a single-elimination game with winner-take-all stakes at hand.
If the Yankees had lost, no big deal. If the A's had lost, there would have been no more baseball in Oakland until 2013.