After a bunch of missed opportunities, the New York Yankees broke through in a big way against an unlikely pitcher in the ninth inning of a tie game. The Bombers scored five runs in the frame off Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson as the Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the American League Division Series with a 7-2 win.
Buck Showalter went to Johnson, the Orioles closer in the ninth with the game in the balance and he was greeted by a Russell Martin bomb to left field giving the Yankees a one-run lead. The Yankees proceeded to record three straight singles to bring in another run. Robinson Cano‘s first hit of the night was a two-run double which chased Johnson. Cano scored on a sac fly from Nick Swisher off Tommy Hunter who came in when Johnson got the hook. The damage against Johnson; .1 IP, 5 R (4ER), 5 H and 1 HR.
The rally was certainly unexpected against Johnson who was fantastic in the regular season with 51 saves. Regular season results can sometimes get thrown out the window under the pressure of the postseason. It was especially surprising since the Yankees had some missed opportunities throughout which could have prevented Johnson from coming on in the first place.
The Yankees got two quick hits off Orioles starter Jason Hammel to start off the game, a single by Derek Jeter and then a double from Ichiro Suzuki, plating their first run. Unfortunately Suzuki tried to steal third and was gunned down by Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. The base running gaffe was one of two (maybe three if you count Martin’s terrible slide into home in the seventh) by the Yankees in this game. Suzuki trying to run was certainly ill advised especially in a playoff game where runs are typically at a premium.
The Orioles took the lead in the bottom of the third inning courtesy of a two-run single by Nate McLouth after Robert Andino put down a sac bunt following back-to-back singles by Chris Davis and Lew Ford. Yankees starter CC Sabathia got J.J. Hardy to bounce into an inning ending double play to end the threat. It was the last time the Orioles would push a runner across the plate.
In the top of the fourth the Yankees had another rally get squashed by poor base running. Alex Rodriguez drew a leadoff walk and Swisher pushed him over to second after a one-out walk. Mark Teixeira ripped a liner off the wall in right field which was played well by Davis. Teixeira made a poor decision to try and stretch it into a double and Davis made him pay throwing him out by a few steps. Rodriguez scored and while there is no assurance the Yankees would have scored again with the extra out and runners at second and third with one out, it was better than what they were left with.
Hammel put up zeroes from there, lasting 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits, four walks and five strikeouts. He finished strong retiring six of the last seven batters he faced.
But Sabathia was better and dominant at times. He tossed 120 pitches through 8 2/3 innings with only two runs allowed on eight hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. He escaped his biggest jam in the eighth with the game knotted at 2. After giving up a leadoff double to Hardy, Sabathia buckled down striking out Adam Jones, retiring Wieters on a pop out and got Mark Reynolds to ground out.