Orioles' magic runs dry in Game 5
NEW YORK — Yankees-Orioles. Playoffs. Disputed home run to right field. Yankees win.
CC Sabathia and his New York teammates saw Nate McLouth's long drive called foul by the slimmest of margins — hello, Jeffrey Maier — and then hung on to beat Baltimore, 3-1, on Friday night in the decisive Game 5 of the AL Division Series.
With Alex Rodriguez benched, the Yankees advanced to the AL Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers, starting Saturday night in the Bronx.
“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.”
Sabathia pitched a four-hitter, wriggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning. It was his first complete game in 17 postseason starts and the first for the Yankees since Roger Clemens in 2000.
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 ALCS opener, on a fly ball that still stirs emotions in Baltimore.
This time, with the Orioles trailing, 1-0, in the sixth, McLouth sent a 3-1 pitch down the right-field line. Right-field umpire Fieldin Culbreth waved foul with both arms.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out to ask for a video review, and most of the umpiring crew went down a tunnel to examine the images. 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.”
Showalter? Not sure.
“It was real close,” he said.
Steven Ellis, a fan from the Broad Channel section of Queens, caught the ball with his Yankees cap in the second deck.
“It was foul all the way — never hit the pole,” he said.
A stadium usher who wouldn't give his name said he saw the ball glance off the pole.
In 1996, Maier, 12, 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.
“Just watching at home, I promise,” Maier texted Friday.
Sabathia defeated the Orioles for the second time in six days, Raul Ibanez hit a go-ahead single in the fifth off Jason Hammel, and Ichiro Suzuki added an RBI double in the sixth.
Curtis Granderson boosted the lead to 3-0 with a second-deck solo homer against Troy Patton in the seventh.
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