Raul Ibanez was the hero on Wednesday night. His 9th inning game tying homerun was a shocking turn in the game. With A-Rod due up, Joe Girardi decided to bench the hall of famer for the 41 year old platoon player. Ibanez stepped up and crushed a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall. Only two innings later, Ibanez won the game on the first pitch of the bottom 11th. He crushed the pitch to the second deck in right. Not only was it such a crazy sequence of events with A-Rod being benched; but Ibanez’s clutch performance came at a time when the Yankees were in threat of going down 2-1 in a series where they seemingly can’t score any runs. This was a huge huge walk-off moment for the Yankees and if they go on to win the series and move on to the World Series, this will surely be the defining moment. Though Ibanez’s walk-off is surely one of the top ten I have seen in my life-time, I had just too many others to list. So here are the (other) top 10 Walk-Off Home Runs in the MLB Playoffs in my lifetime.
10. Jeff Kent
The 5th game between the Cardinals and Astros in the 2004 National League Series was an all-time great pitching duel. Woody Williams allowed one hit through seven innings while Brandon Backe allowed just one hit through eight. Eventually, the game came down to the bottom of the 9th where Kent blasted a three run homer of Jason Isringhausen to move the Astros within 1 win of the World Series.
9. Alfonso Soriano
2001 was a magical year for the Yanks. It all started in game 4 of the ALDS. The Yankees were up 2-1 against the Mariners and game 4 was another great duel. The score was 1-1 through 8 innings with each team amassing only 1 hit. After Rivera breezed through the 9th, Soriano crushed a pitch deep to center field, sending the Yanks to the ALCS and ultimately the World Series vs the Diamondbacks.
8. Nelson Cruz
After failing to win the World Series the year before, the Rangers were facing the Tigers last year. In game 2, with the game tied 3-3, Cruz stepped up in the 11th inning and crushed a walk-off grand slam. This highlighted Cruz’s crazy postseason of 6 homers and 13 RBIs.
7. Jim Edmonds
Ya, remember this guy. Well a day after Jeff Kent hit a walk-off for the Astros (see #10), Edmonds returned the favor. After the Astros tied game 6 in the 9th with a score of 4-4, Edmonds crushed a three run homer in the 12th, which ultimately propelled the Cardinals to the World Series.
6. Bernie Williams
Bernie, the all-time leader in post season HR and RBI is sure to make this list at least once. In 1996, the Yankees and Orioles faced off in the ALCS. Game one was a tight 4-4 game headed into the 11th inning. Bernie stepped up to the played and rocked a Randy Myers pitch into the bleachers, earning the Yanks an early series lead.
5. Chris Burke
The Astros and Braves faced off in the 2005 NLDS. With Houston holding a 2-1 series lead, the teams faced off in a game 4. The Braves were looking to force a fifth game with a 6-1 lead in the 8th. The Astros then scored 4 in the 8th and headed down one run in the 9th. Brad Ausmus tied the game with a solo shot in the 9th. The game then continued for another 9 whole innings where in the bottom of the 18th inning, Burke launched a 2-0 pitch over the fence. His shot ended the longest post season game ever and clinched the series for the Astros.
4. Bernie Williams
Only a few short years later, Bernie continued his post season dominance. The Yanks faced off against the Red Sox in the 1999 ALCS. With the game tied 3-3 in the 10th, Bernie Williams hit an inning lead-off walk-off homer. This set the tone for the Yanks who won both the 1996 and 1999 series in just 5 games on their way to two World Series titles.
3. David Ortiz
This one hurts to put on but is deserving. The Yankees exploded in the first three ALCS games against the Sox, earning a 3-0 lead. But in the bottom of the 9th down to their last out, the Sox tied the game. Then in the bottom of the 12th, Big Papi himself crushed a Paul Quantrill pitch for the walk-off. This started the greatest comeback in sports history as the Sox pulled off 4 straight wins on the way to their first World Series in 86 years.
2. David Freese
The Rangers were clearly on their way to the World Series Championship, right? Wrong. Twice, down to their last out, Friese came to the plate with the game on the line. In the bottom of the 9th, he hit a game-tying triple and then in extra innings, he belted a walk-off Homer after the Cardinals had tied the game. Friese has become an instant hero in the world of sports and his heroics helped the Cardinals earn their 2nd title in the past decade.
1. Aaron Boone
The 2003 ALCS between the Yanks and the Sox was a slugfest. This fight to the end was the infamous Pedro Martinez. The Yanks were down late before Pedro was left in too long, ushering a Yankee comeback. The amazing 8th inning comeback was topped a few innings later when Aaron Boone led off the bottom of the 11th. After Rivera pitches his 3rd scoreless inning, Boone who barely had a hit the rest of the series, crushed a Tim Wakefield knuckleball over the left field wall. This was without a doubt the most exciting Yankee and baseball moment over the last 20 years.