SPORTS
10/14/2012 01:00 am ET

Raul Ibanez Home Run: Yankees Force Extra Innings Against Tigers In ALCS Game 1 (VIDEO)

He did it again.

If you've been paying even the slightest bit of attention to the 2012 MLB postseason then you should know exactly the who and have a darn good guess about what it was that he did. Again.

Raul Ibanez hit another game-tying, ninth inning home run, continuing his emergence as an unlikely October Icon.

With the New York Yankees down to their final strike against the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS, Ibanez turned around a Jose Valverde pitch for a game-tying, two-run home run that landed in the seats behind the wall in right field. The two-run blast capped a four-run inning for the Yankees, who had been trailing 4-0 through eight. Ichiro plated a pair or runs earlier in the frame with a longball of his own off Valverde.

The 40-year-old left-handed hitter captured the national spotlight when he came off the bench -- to replace Alex Rodriguez, no less -- in the ninth and launched a game-tying home run into the seats in right field in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles. Three inning later, Ibanez knocked the walk-off winner toward the same short porch in right. In the lineup as the DH in Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday night, he once again muscled a ball out to right when the Yankees had to have it.

Coming on to save a sterling outing from Doug Fister and the Tigers' middle relief staff, Valverde gave up two home runs in the ninth in a collapse that could force Tigers manager Jim Leyland to shake up his bullpen. Valverde had not served up a homer since May 25, according to the Detroit Free Press. His postseason stats are becoming almost as troubling for Tigers fans as Ibanez' are delightful for those rooting for the Bronx Bombers.

Unlike Valverde, Ibanez has his numbers trending dramatically up as the stakes increase. Counting his walk-off blast against the Red Sox on Oct. 2, Ibanez already has four home runs in the ninth inning or later in the month of October. That total already surpasses his output -- regardless of inning -- for all but one entire month of the 2012 season (May). Even more impressive, his three home runs in postseason play in the ninth inning or later also give him the most by an player in MLB history during a single playoff campaign.

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ALCS Game 1 - Tigers v. Yankees
PHOTO GALLERY
ALCS Game 1 - Tigers v. Yankees

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