NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It all comes down to this: a do-or-die Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.
With their division series knotted at two games apiece, the Yankees and Orioles will leave it all on the field Friday for the chance to take on Detroit in the ALCS.
New York has to like its chances with ace CC Sabathia on the mound.
“It’s time to go,” Sabathia said after the Yankees’ 2-1 loss in Game 4. “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.”
It’s an appropriate finish to this season’s renewed New York-Baltimore rivalry. The Yankees barely hung on to take the AL East against Buck Showalter’s gritty bunch, and barely outscored the Orioles 103-101 in 22 games — including the playoffs — split right down the middle.
Game 5 will break the tie.
“Well, it’s kind of what we’ve been used to the whole year,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “It’s been a grind. It’s been a fight to stay ahead of this club the whole year. So it’s pretty fitting.”
Sabathia nearly went the distance for Girardi in Game 1, throwing 8.2 innings of eight-hit ball in a 7-2 win. The left-hander is 6-1 with a 3.29 ERA in 11 postseason starts for the Yankees.
“This is what you play for,” Sabathia said. “That’s a good team over there we’ve been battling all year, so hopefully I can go out and have a good performance, and keep us in the game and give us a chance to win.”
Tasked with keeping Baltimore in the game against Sabathia will be Jason Hammel, looking to break the Orioles’ lose-one-win-one pattern. New York has taken the odd-numbered games in this series.
“It’s obviously an honor to be the one toeing the slab,” Hammel said. “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.”
The Yankees will need their big bats to wake up against Baltimore’s tall righty.
Alex Rodriguez’s woes at the plate have been the story this series, though Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson are also batting below the Mendoza Line. Ichiro Suzuki is at an even .200.
A-Rod won’t get a chance to improve on his numbers — at least not as a starter. He was left off the Yankees’ lineup on Friday afternoon. Raul Ibanez will DH in the No. 5 spot.
“There’s guys on the other side that are struggling, too,” said Girardi. “You’re seeing some really good pitching in these four games.”
Girardi and the Yankees hope that pitching trend continues Friday.
That is, in Sabathia’s case.
What’s your prediction for Game 5? Will the Yankees move on? Be heard in the comments below!