Sabathia and the Yankees advanced to the American League Championship Series after a 3-1 win on Friday night against the Baltimore Orioles.
The big storyline entering Friday's do-or-die game was the benching of Alex Rodriguez, but no one was talking about A-Rod after the way Sabathia pitched.
Sabathia was brilliant for the Bronx Bombers. Although it got a little hairy in the eighth inning when Sabathia loaded the bases loaded with just one out, the big man bore down and got a strikeout and a groundout to escape any trouble.
The big lefty pitched a complete game, surrendering just one run on four hits and striking out nine Orioles on 121 pitches.
Raul Ibanez played hero again for the Yankees' offense, plating Mark Teixeira on an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth that proved to be all the run support that Sabathia would need. Ichiro Suzuki tacked on another run the next inning, doubling to deep right-center to score Derek Jeter and give New York a 2-0 lead.
The key for Sabathia on Friday night was his slider, which was extremely effective and helped him keep his pitch count down, as you can see in this tweet from ESPN's Buster Olney:
Sabathia's pitch count at 82 through seven innings.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 12, 2012
Jason Hammel took the loss for the O's, lasting 5.2 innings and allowing two runs on four hits. Hammel pitched well in the bright lights of the city, fanning six New York hitters and walking just two.
After scuffling through the first four games of the ALDS, Curtis Granderson came alive in Game 5, going 2-for-3 at the plate and depositing a Troy Patton pitch into the right-field stands in the seventh inning for a home run. As Yankees beat writer Andrew Marchand tweeted, Granderson's bomb took the wind out of the Orioles' sails:
Granderson goes yard and the party has started here for the Yanks. Feels like midnight for the O's.— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) October 12, 2012
Also productive for the Yankees was Mark Teixeira (1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored) and Ibanez, who went 1-for-3 at the plate with that fifth-inning RBI that got the scoring going for New York.
Up next for the Yankees is a Detroit Tigers team that boasts one of the toughest three-four combinations in Prince Fielder and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. New York will be looking to seek revenge against the Tigers, who knocked the Pinstripes out of the postseason in 2011.
Game 1 of the ALCS will be on Saturday at 8 p.m. on TBS, but Friday night is all about celebration for the Yankees.
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