In the three divisional games in New York, the Orioles went 3 for 19 with runners in scoring position. In the ninth inning Friday, Adam Jones flied out, Chris Davis struck out and Matt Wieters bounced out to Sabathia. Then the Frank Sinatra music blared.
Jones went 2 for 23 in the series. Wieters (3 for 20), J.J. Hardy (3 for 22), Manny Machado (2 for 16), Mark Reynolds (3 for 19) and Jim Thome (1 for 12) also struggled. Baltimore pitchers gave up only 16 runs in the five games but got minimal support.
“It’s unfortunate that a lot of guys got cold at the wrong time,” Jones said. “This is where we feel we belong. We feel that we’re one of the teams in the [American League] East to beat now. We’re not just a pushover in the East.”
With a New York lineup rejiggered by the headline-generating benching of $275 million third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees scratched for two runs off Baltimore starting right-hander Jason Hammel, all they needed to advance for the third time in four years to the American League Championship Series, which will begin Saturday night in New York.
Baltimore and New York split their first 22 games this season, and until New York pushed a run across in the sixth in front of a crowd 47,081, neither team led by more than one run in 46 of the first 48 innings in the low-scoring series.
Sabathia followed pitching 82
3 innings in Game 1 with a complete game on Friday in which he struck out nine and faced only one batter over the minimum in the first seven innings.
“He didn’t pitch all five [games], but it certainly felt like it, didn’t it?” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “We had very few opportunities against him. We had a shot there in the eighth, and he took it to another level, if there is such a thing.”
Down 3-0 in the eighth, Wieters led off with a single and Machado walked. After Reynolds struck out, Lew Ford singled past diving shortstop Derek Jeter to drive in Wieters, and Robert Andino loaded the bases when he hit a bouncer between the mound and third. Sabathia fielded the grounder but no one covered third, and his throw to second was too late to get Ford.
Sabathia squelched the potential rally by striking out Nate McLouth for the second out, and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter charged a grounder by Hardy and threw to first for the final out of the inning.
Sabathia, with his cockeyed cap, screamed into his glove as he headed toward the dugout.