NEW YORK (AP) — CC Sabathia boosted the New York Yankees past the Baltimore Orioles, ending a spellbinding six-week drama that drove and drained both teams.
New York advanced to an AL championship series matchup with Detroit, beating Baltimore 3-1 in Game 5 of their AL division series on Friday behind Sabathia's four-hitter.
Andy Pettitte, the career postseason leader with 19 wins, starts Game 1 for the Yankees on Saturday night with a rested bullpen behind him, opposed by Doug Fister. It's a rematch of last year's division series won by the Tigers in five games and provides a platform for Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, baseball's first Triple Crown winner in 45 years.
"I don't know if you can shut him down, but try to keep him from doing too much damage in the series, and that's key to us winning," Pettitte said.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi faces another big decision. After benching slumping Alex Rodriguez for Game 5 against the Orioles, will he insert him back at third base against a Detroit team with four right-handers in its starting rotation?
To get back to the ALCS for the first time in two years, the Yankees had to shake off Baltimore. The teams were separated by no more than a game from Sept. 3-24, the longest September stretch that tight between first- and second-place clubs since the 19th century.
The Yankees had some help from the right field umpire, just as they did against the Orioles in the 1996 ALCS — hello, Jeffrey Maier.
With New York ahead 1-0 in the sixth, Nate McLouth's drive down the right-field line on a 3-1 pitch was called foul by the slimmest of margins.
Fieldin Culbreth demonstrably 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."
McLouth wondered what the umps would decide.
"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."
Steven Ellis, a fan from the Broad Channel section of Queens, caught the ball with his Yankee cap in the second deck.
"It was foul all the way, never hit the pole," he said.
Back in 1996, the 12-year-old Maier reached over the wall above right fielder Tony Tarasco and deflected Derek Jeter's fly ball. Umpire Richie Garcia called it a home run, which tied the score 4-all in the eighth inning, and the Yankees went on to win in the 11th.
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