The Yankees clubhouse, a coolly professional space after wins and losses alike, was giddy about Raul Ibanez's theatrics on Wednesday night.
"You can't script something like that," New York outfielder Nick Swisher said. "Talk about a huge momentum shift in our favor. And man, we're excited to get back here tomorrow and try to close out the series."
Swisher gushed about Ibanez's professionalism in waiting around all game, only to pounce on the first good pitch he saw
"In situations like that, it's such a stressful time, trying to go out and put quality at-bats together," Swisher said. "When his bat hit that ball, I just turned around, and everybody reacted like a 12-year-old.
"He just made himself a legend in Yankee eyes."
The flip side of Ibanez's triumph was Alex Rodriguez's humiliation. After Rodriguez posted another anemic night at the plate, manager Joe Girardi used Ibanez to pitch hit for the $30 million third baseman.
To his credit, Rodriguez was the first player to leap with joy when Ibanez homered and one of the first to congratulate him when he reached the dugout.
"Maybe 10 years ago, I react in a much different way, but I'm at a point in my career where team is everything," Rodriguez said. "And I don't think there was anyone in the ballpark more excited for Raul than me."
He admitted he couldn't remember anyone pinch hitting for him since "maybe high school." But Rodriguez said he was fine with Girardi and expected to be in the line-up Thursday.
"Sometimes, you've got to do what your gut tells you, and my gut told me to make the move," Girardi said. "I still have the utmost respect for Al and I still think he's a great player. He's just going through a little tough time now."
The Yankees might have to play without captain Derek Jeter on Thursday after Jeter fouled a ball off his foot and bruised the bone. He hobbled through an at-bat in the eighth inning Wednesday before Girardi removed him.
The manager said Jeter will want to play Thursday but said his shortstop is day-to-day. "Hopefully, we can get him back in there," Girardi said.