The National Hockey League may be locked out but a historic night of post-season Major League Baseball action helped fill the void on Wednesday.
In the last two games of a day filled with four playoff games, both the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics overcame ninth-inning deficits to earn victories – the first time two teams achieved that feat on the same night in post-season history.
The drama of the two American League Divisional Series’ walk-offs was a welcome distraction to many Canadian sports fans tired with NHL labour talks.
It started in New York with the Yankees trailing the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 with only two outs left to answer. With the Yankee Stadium crowd buzzing after pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez replaced $100-million US man Alex Rodriguez , the 40-year-old took the second pitch he saw into the right fielder bleachers to tie the game 2-2 and send it extra innings.
Three innings later Ibanez returned to the plate to finish what he had started, hitting a towering shot into the second deck in right field to hand the Yankees ahead a 3-2 victory and 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five matchup.
A mere hours later Oakland’s back was against the wall in a do-or-die situation with the Detroit Tigers.
The A’s, down two 2-1 int he series, were headed into the bottom of the ninth trailing by two. With the first two batters of the inning reaching base Steve Smith belted a double to tie the game 3-3 and put himself in scoring position. After two failed attempts to bring Smith home, Coco Crisp belted a single to right field, scoring Smith force a deciding Game 5.
In the end, the Yankees and A’s were the first teams in post-season history to accomplish ninth-inning comebacks on the same day.