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The Strike Zone

Ibanez delivers double dose of history

Raul Ibanez Raul Ibanez is the first player to hit a pinch-hit game-tying home run in the ninth and a walk-off HR in extra innings in one postseason game. (UPI/Landov)

When Joe Girardi sent Raul Ibanez up to pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning last night, the Yankees' Win Expectancy stood at just 11.5 percent, as teams that trail by even a single run with one out in the ninth inning don't come back to win very often. Ibanez changed all that with one swing, however, launching a game-tying home run that increased their Win Expectancy by 46.7 percent. In the last 10 years, only five postseason home runs have caused a bigger swing in their team's chances of coming out victorious, making it one of the most clutch home runs in recent postseason history.

Three innings later, Ibanez did it again, smacking a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th to give the Yankees a 3-2 win and a 2-games-to-1 series lead over the Orioles. This one wasn't quite as much of a game-changer, as the Yankees were 64 percent favorites to win even before he came up, but the 36 percent increase still made it the fourth largest increase of any play throughout the playoffs to that point (the A's ninth-inning rally just a couple hours later pushed Ibanez down to sixth on that list).

Overall, Ibanez increased the Yankees' Win Expectancy by 82.7 percent in his two at-bats.  Over the last 10 years, the only player to post a higher total was David Freese in Game 6 of last year's World Series. While the stage wasn't as large, Ibanez's performance will still go down as one of the great clutch performances in postseason history.

-- By Fangraphs.com Staff

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