Philly Sports Live

Raul Ibanez, Yankees beat Orioles to advance to ALCS

Raul Ibanez strapped the goggles to his face and shook a bottle of champagne in the middle of the Yankees clubhouse. A teammate doused him in bubbly and it soaked his bald head and pin-striped pants.

Ten feet away, Alex Rodriguez danced. He, too, held a bottle and savored the moment he was prevented from creating. The Yankees defeated Baltimore, 3-1, Friday in the fifth game of an epic American League division series with their $275 million man benched and Ibanez, signed one day after the start of spring training, so pivotal.

Ibanez, 40 years old and in the twilight of a ringless career, can keep dreaming. The former Phillies outfielder assumed Rodriguez’s spot in the lineup and exalted in the same stadium where his closest chance had been dashed three years earlier.

The American League Championship Series with Detroit begins Saturday in the Bronx, and no one imagined the strange disparity between Ibanez and Rodriguez. Ibanez had four hits in this series, three of which scored runs. Rodriguez, twice pinch-hit for and subsequently benched, had two hits and nine strikeouts.