C.C. Sabathia spun a gem and avoided giving up a key home run by the slimmest of margins and the New York Yankees advanced to the AL Championship series against the Detroit Tigers with a 3-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
The victory, as was another against the Orioles, was not without controversy. Baltimore‘s Nate McLouth turned on a 93 mph fastball from Sabathia and sent it soaring down the right-field line. However, the towering shot drifted foul but mere feet, and the notion of an Orioles’ threat was over.
Sabathia pitched a four-hitter, wriggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning for his first complete game in 17 postseason starts, and the first for the Yankees since Roger Clemens in 2000.
“It is still a long way to go,” Sabathia said. “I still got hopefully three or four more starts. So the job is not done yet.”
Yet it was another piece of history that this game evoked.The Orioles were in a foul mood, stung on a close play in right that echoed what happened across the street at the old Yankee Stadium in the 1996 AL championship opener, on a fly ball involving the young Jeffrey Maier that still stirs emotions in Baltimore. This time, with the Orioles trailing 1-0 in the sixth, McLouth sent a 3-1 pitch deep.
Umpire Fieldin Culbreth waved foul with both arms. Orioles manager Buck Showalter jogged onto the field to ask for a video review, and four umpires went down a tunnel on the third-base side to examine the images on a screen near their dressing room.
When they ran back onto the field about two minutes later, they didn’t make any signal — meaning the original call stood. McLouth struck out on the next pitch, ending the inning.
“I saw it go to the right of the pole,” Culbreth said. “There is netting there and it didn’t touch the netting.”
“It did not change direction,” he added, indicating he did not think the ball grazed the pole.Added crew chief Brian Gorman: “We saw the same thing on the replay. There was no evidence to overturn the decision.”
Showalter? Not sure.”I couldn’t tell. It was real close,” he said.
“It started off fair and it was just hooking a little bit. I thought it was foul just in game speed,” McLouth said. “A couple of people mentioned it might’ve ticked the pole, but he was way closer than I was and I was satisfied after they went down and looked at the replay that it was foul.”
The Yankees , who benched Alex Rodriguez for Game 5, advanced despite hitting .219 with runners in scoring position (7 for 32) — but Baltimore was 3 for 22 in that situation during the three games in New York.