Update, 9:37 p.m.: The Yankees got just enough offense and a ton of pitching to outlast Baltimore in the fifth and final game of the Division Series.
Sabathia went the distance, striking out nine, in a 3-1 victory over the Orioles.
“The older I have gotten, the bigger games I have got to pitch in,” Sabathia said. “Especially being here, you know, getting a chance to play in Boston, you know, New York games, you know it is always a big game. So since I have been here, I think I learned to keep my emotions under wraps and being able to go out there and, you know, perform well. I think in 2007 my emotions got the best of me definitely in the playoff and I didn’t have a good run. But the older I have gotten the better I have got, I think.”
“He’s our horse. He’s our No. 1,” Nick Swisher said. “We really feel good when he’s on the mound for us.”
“He didn’t pitch all five but it certainly felt like it, didn’t it?” Buck Showalter.
“He is our ace,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. He has been there and he has done that.”
There was one disputed play in the game.
Nate McLouth hit a long fly ball down the right field line in the sixth inning, but umpires called it a foul ball on the field.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter went out to argue and the umpires decided to take another look on instant replay. There wasn’t enough evidence on tape for them to overturn the call.
“I saw it go to the right of the pole,” said right field umpire Fieldin Culbreth. “There is netting there and it didn’t touch the netting. It did not change direction.”
There was one replay on TV that did make it look like the ball changed direction at some point in its flight near the foul pole…but other angles made it look like the ball sailed wide of the pole.
TBS sideline reporter Craig Sager had many fans tell him that they saw it foul (well, duh, they’re Yankees fans, what else were they going to say) and one usher who claimed to have seen it nick the pole.
In a two-run game, it certainly didn’t end up as the singular reason the Orioles lost. Still, had that been called a home run, maybe Baltimore opens up a rally with J.J. Hardy, the No. 2 hitter coming up next.
“Someone said it nicked the pole but that didn’t beat us,” Showalter said.
Of course, you can find all of our coverage in the Times Herald-Record tomorrow, as well as a Tigers-Yankees series preview page. We also plan to do another live chat starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, so please join in if you want to sound off on the Yankees-Tigers series.
Here is the schedule for the ALCS.
Saturday – Det @ NYY, 8:07 p.m.
Sunday – Det @ NYY, 4:07 p.m.
Tuesday – NYY @ Det, 8:07 p.m.
Wednesday – NYY @ Det, 8:07 p.m.
Thursday – NYY @ Det, 4:07 p.m.
Saturday – Det @ NYY, 8:07 p.m.
Sunday – Det @ NYY, 8:15 p.m.
NEW YORK – It’s the biggest game of the season for the Yankees.
Alex Rodriguez will watch it from the bench.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to play Eric Chavez over Rodriguez at third base in this afternoon’s series finale.
“It is difficult,” Girardi said. :He has meant a lot to the organization, the game of baseball over the years. And he has been a very productive hitter. But he struggled against right-handers in the series and Chavy has been good against right-handers all year long. I made a decision to start Chavy today.”
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter didn’t show much emotion when asked about his reaction to A-Rod being benched.
“No, it didn’t surprise anybody,” Showalter said. “Joe is going to do what he thinks is best for his team. He knows his people better than anybody else. It creates some good options for him on the bench, just like it was with Chavez on the bench. And they are going to have someone on the bench who has a real track record of success every night. They have it with Ibanez, they had it with Chavez, and Nix played well against us, too. He has been impressive. And you pick your poison. It is all poison, potentially.”
Here is the Yankees’ lineup for tonight:
Jeter – SS
Ichiro – LF
Cano – 2B
Teixeira – 1B
Ibanez – DH
Swisher – RF
Granderson – CF
Martin – C
Chavez – 3B
SP – Sabathia
McLouth – LF
Hardy – SS
Jones – CF
Davis – RF
Wieters – C
Machado – 3B
Reynolds – 1B
Ford – DH
Andino – 2B
SP – Hammel
It’s only fitting that it’s all going to come down to one game between the Yankees and Orioles, who had a terrific race to the finish in the AL East. There is certainly much more pressure on the Yankees, who have the more talented team and expectations that go along with being division champs and well, being the Yankees. Baltimore, even with a loss here, will still have had a season to remember. New York, with a loss here, enters an offseason sure to be full of hot stove rumors.
I’ll update this post after the game with the reaction from the interview room and the clubhouse.
What’s your thought before the game? Let me know on Twitter: @THR_Montgomery.