(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles needed 162
games to determine an American League East champion, so it's only fitting that
their Division Series reached a decisive fifth game.
The Yankees and Orioles will play a winner take all showdown Friday at Yankee
Stadium with a trip to the ALCS on the line.
"It's an honor to be in Game 5 with them," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter
said. "You knew all along that the road to where we want to try to get is
going to have to pass through there and here."
After a crushing extra-inning loss on Wednesday, Baltimore staved off
elimination in Game 4 on Thursday, as J.J. Hardy's RBI double in the 13th
inning lifted the Orioles to a 2-1 victory.
The hit made a winner of Pedro Strop (1-0), who allowed one hit and struck out
two over two scoreless innings of relief.
Nate McLouth hit his first career postseason homer in the win, while Jim
Johnson pitched a perfect 13th to record his second save of the series.
Johnson, of course, served up a game-tying home run to Raul Ibanez in the
ninth inning of Wednesday's 12-inning setback.
David Phelps (0-1) surrendered the deciding run to take the loss.
Robinson Cano knocked in the lone run for New York, which hit 0-for-9 with
runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
"It's playoff baseball and the games are extremely tight. Usually the
difference in these games is one hit. That basically has been the difference,"
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's been very good pitching. They
controlled the bats for the most part, and it's come down to one hit."
Alex Rodriguez continued to struggle and is just 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts
in the series. He's not the only one, though, as Curtis Granderson (1-for-16),
Cano (2-for-18) and Nick Swisher (2-for-15) have all failed in big spots.
"We're obviously frustrated after having several situations to do some
damage," Rodriguez said. "We couldn't get it done tonight. Tomorrow's another
The Yankees are shooting for their third trip to the ALCS in the last four
years, while Baltimore hasn't advanced past the first round since 1997.
New York should have an edge on Friday with lefty CC Sabathia on the hill.
Sabathia was brilliant in his Game 1 win, allowing two runs and eight hits in
8 2/3 innings. He also struck out seven and walked a batter in his third
straight win overall.
"It's time to go," Sabathia said late Thursday night. "This is a one-game
playoff and this is what we play for. We're here in the Bronx, at home, and
like I said, I'll be excited and ready to go."
Sabathia is 6-1 with a 3.29 ERA in 11 playoff starts with New York, but has
pitched to a 4.56 ERA in 17 career postseason outings.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jason Hammel, who also pitched
well in Game 1. Hammel did not factor in the decision, but surrendered two
runs and four hits with four walks in 5 2/3 innings.
"It's obviously an honor to be the one toeing the slab," said Hammel, who
allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Yankees on Sunday. "But it's
been a team effort to get here ... We're very confident that we can go ahead
and win one more.
"It is all or nothing, but there's no reason to pressure ourselves anymore.
We've done this a million times this year. It seems like we've played these
guys to a one run game every time out. It's really nothing new."
This will be his fifth start this season against the Yankees, who have managed
just three runs over their last 10 2/3 innings against Hammel.
Showalter may need a big effort from Hammel on Friday, as O's relievers have
thrown 11 1/3 innings over past two games.
Including San Francisco and Detroit's wins on Thursday, there have been 18
Division Series Game 5s and 11 have been won by the road team. Six of those 11
wins have come in the AL.
Of the last 13 opening-round series to go to a Game 5, the home team has won
only three of those contests
The Yankees know that stat all too well, as they dropped a decisive fifth game
at home last year to Detroit. They are also 5-4 all-time in best-of-five Game
The Tigers, of course, won a Game 5 of their own on Wednesday and will play
the winner of Friday's game in Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday.
The Orioles and Yankees are certainly no strangers to one another and in
addition to splitting 18 regular season meetings this season, these teams also
met in the 1996 ALCS, a series won by New York, but one that was made famous
by the Jeffrey Maier catch.
New York won that series in five games.
The Sports Network