In a winner take all game bogged down by a flailing offense, the New York Yankees needed a top notch performance from CC Sabathia and they got it. The Yankees’ undeniable ace tossed a complete game propelling the Bombers into the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers with a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Sabathia was brilliant allowing just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out nine batters. He said prior to the game that he was ready to take the Yankees on his shoulders and he did it with ease. Sabathia is hitting a nice stride at the perfect time. In his two ALDS starts he threw 17 2/3 innings and allowed only three runs with 16 Ks. He held the Orioles to a .190 batting average.
The big story prior to the game was that Eric Chavez would replace Alex Rodriguez in the lineup with righty Jason Hammel on the mound. Chavez didn’t fare any better than A-Rod might have, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He was 0-for-8 for the series which may alleviate some of manager Joe Girardi’s desires to sit Rodriguez again. A-Rod was 2-for-16 in the ALDS.
The Yankees and Orioles traded zeroes for the first four innings as Hammel was baffling the struggling Yankees order, matching Sabathia each step of the way. It shouldn’t have been a shock as the win gave the Yankees just one more than the Orioles over the course of 23 meetings. The Yankees only outscored the Orioles by four runs (106-102) during the span.
The Yankees finally broke through with a run in the fifth. Mark Teixeira singled and then showed his “fleet” feet by stealing second base. Raul Ibanez stroked a single through the middle to drive in Teixeira.
Finally in the seventh, Curtis Granderson homered deep into the second deck in right field. It was Granderson’s second hit of the day after just one in his previous 16 at-bats in the series.
The way Sabathia was dealing it was easy to think that the three runs would be more than enough. But as usual, the Orioles had other thoughts. They battled all season long and they were not going to go down without a fight in this one.
Matt Wieters started the eighth inning with a single and moved to second on Manny Machado‘s walk. After getting Mark Reynolds to strike out, ‘Sabathia killer’ Lew Ford singled past a diving Jeter to score Wieters. Robert Andino grounded to Sabathia and in the position he fielded the ball, he couldn’t make a play thus loading the bases with still just one out. But, Sabathia reared back and struck out Nate McLouth. He then got J.J. Hardy to ground out to Jeter on a tough running play he has made look easy his entire career.
While Yankees closer Rafael Soriano warmed in the bullpen Sabathia came out for the top of the ninth and he looked as strong as he did in the first. He got Adam Jones on a lazy fly ball to left field and struck out Chris Davis. CC induced a weak comebacker off the bat of Wieters which he tossed to Teixeira to finish off the game.
The Yankees will stay home and get right back in action against the Detroit Tigers Saturday night in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The starters will be Andy Pettitte for the Bombers and Doug Fister for the Tigers.