NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Raul Ibanez #27 of the New York Yankees reaches his teammates at home place after hitting a walk off home run in the bottom of the twelfth inning against the Baltimore Orioles in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 10, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)2012 Getty Images
New York – Going into last night's Game three of the American League Divisional Series, fans and critics of Alex Rodriguez all wanted to know if Yankees manager Joe Girardi would remove the All-Star from the third hole in the lineup.
And Girardi shocked everyone when he did the unthinkable, pinch-hitting for Rodriguez.
Going with his "gut," the Yankees manager inserted Raúl Ibañez in the ninth inning with the team one out away from losing to the Baltimore Orioles in the best of five series.
But not only did Ibañez homer to tie the game 2-2, he ended it in the bottom of the 11th with a blast on the very first pitch that he saw.
With so many unanswered questions, Ibañez made it clear that A-Rod had met his match.
Since failing to come thru in the clutch time and time again, the slumping Rodriguez has had a love-hate relationship with the fans.
Reserve infielder Eduardo Núñez happens to have the locker in between Robinson Canó and A-Rod, two baseball heavyweights that have taken the youngster under their wings.
Núñez told Fox News Latino inside the surprised clubhouse that Rodriguez had not been feeling well after battling some pain in the waist area.
"Alex is not doing well," Núñez said. "Health wise, Alex has a minor problem in his waist and that was the reason the manager decided to take him out."
Like always, when asked about Girardi's decision regarding his former BFF, Derek Jeter avoided making any headlines.
"Well he knew that Raúl was going to hit a home run and that he was going to come back up and hit another one," the team captain said.
"We're trying to win games here."
Sometimes you've got to do what your gut tells you and my gut told me to make the move. 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 right now.
- Manager Joe Girardi
When Joe Torre dropped Rodriguez to the eighth spot in the lineup a few years ago, it created a firestorm that did not go away until Torre left the team.
Now working on changing his persona in the eyes of the public, A-Rod feels today he would have handled the situation differently.
"I got to be honest, I don't know how I would have reacted to that 10 years ago," Rodriguez told a throng of reporters.
"But I've said it a lot and I know that you guys don't want to hear it but I've matured a lot over the last few years."
With the camera shooting directly on him in the dugout, Rodriguez looked less than enthused to be removed from the game. However he was still one of the first players to congratulate and high-five Ibañez for saving the day.
"I don't think there was anybody in the ballpark more excited for Raul than me."
"Joe and I had a discussion," Rodriguez added. "We preached all year it's about 25 guys. It's about whatever it takes to win.
During the Yankees' 2009 playoff run to a World Series title, A-Rod hit 19-for-52 (.365) with six homers and 18 RBIs. Over his last three playoff appearances, including the current series against the Orioles, Rodriguez has gone a miserable 10-for-52 (.192) with no home runs and just six RBIs
This series, the numbers dipped to just 1-for-12.
"I said 'Joe you got to do exactly what you got to do,'" Rodriguez said.
"I never questioned my manager. I love Joe and I'm one of the leaders on this team."
As for Rodriguez's playoff future, Giarardi has some tough decision to make.
"I mean it's a tough move. Sometimes you've got to do what your gut tells you and my gut told me to make the move. 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 right now," Girardi said.
"As a manager, sometimes you manage different in these type of games than you would necessarily during the course of the season because you have a long time to deal with," Girardi said. "But today I just felt like this is what my heart is telling me to do and I'm going to do it."
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc