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ALDS Game 5: Ace

October 13, 2012
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The Yanks celebrate another Division Championship (Getty)

Last night the Yanks won their 10th Divison Series with a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.  The story of this remarkable series was the pitching.  The rotation and bullpen on both sides was nothing short of incredible.  They held the opposing bats scoreless in 82 of the 102 half innings, while holding Yankee bats to a  .211 average and the O’s to a .187 mark.  Just as they were last year against the Tigers, the Bombers were pushed to the brink in the ALDS, but this time they showed resilience in the game’s biggest moments and did what it took to advance.  Here are a few more thoughts on the game.

1.  The Orioles

It’s easy to give credit when you come out on top, but the Orioles put together an incredible season.  They had 24 more wins than in 2011, they were 29-9 in 1-run games, and they won an incredible 16 straight extra inning games.  In 23 games with the Yanks this season, including the playoffs, they were 11-12.  On July 18th the Yankees had a 10-game lead over the O’s in the AL East, but a 4-game sweep by the Oakland A’s set the Bombers on a late summer swoon and helped propel the A’s toward an improbable AL West title.  Over the same span the O’s enjoyed a 5-game winning streak and cut their AL East deficit to 6 games with a whole lot of baseball to play.  By September the lead was all but gone and though the Yanks never relinquished the lead, the Orioles were never more than a step and a half behind them.  This team is not a fluke and as soon as the season is over I’ll start worrying about Baltimore again.

2.  CC

When we needed our ace the most, he came up with one of the best starts of his career, pitching his first postseason complete game to help us finally put the Orioles away.  In a pitcher-dominated series, CC baffled the O’s, allowing just 4 hits over 9 innings and 1 earned run.  His slider had serious bite, his curveball kept the hitters off balance, and he painted the corners all night.  Beyond that, Sabathia was gutsy.  After his poor decision on Robert Andino‘s infield single, the bases were loaded with 1 out and Nate McLouth at the plate.  In one of the biggest moments of the season CC did not wilt, striking out McLouth and inducing a groundout from J.J. Hardy.  That’s what aces do.

3.  Battles Within the Battle

In every playoff game, seemingly small plays loom large in the after the final pitch is thrown.  In the 5th, Tex reached on a single, then, with Mark Reynolds deciding to play the line instead of holding him on, he stole 2nd base.  Battle won.  That play looked a whole lot bigger when Raúl Ibañez, after working a full count, singled just out of the reach of Andino to give the Yanks the all important 1st run of the game.  That 8-pitch at bat was another battle within the battle that we were fortunate enough to win.

4.  Is Grandy Back?

His 7th inning solo shot looked pretty huge when CC got into trouble in the 8th.  Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.  If we’re going to beat Detroit we’re going to need some more firepower.

5.  McLouth’s Foul Ball

What would a Yanks/Orioles playoff game be without a controversial call on a possible home run?

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