Despite winning the AL East division on the very last day of the regular season, the New York Yankees began this postseason as the overall favorites to win the World Series at 5/1. Their playoff experience and penchant for clutch playoff performances shined on the diamond once again last night in a 7-2 win over AL East runner-up Baltimore. Bettors knew that taking the Yankees as a World Series future was a fairly safe play, and they’re bound to feel a little safer seeing the Yanks go up 1-0 in their ALDS matchup with the O’s.
The Orioles got close enough to their first playoff win in 15 years that they could taste it. However that taste turned bitter as the Yankees spoiled their chances and took game one away in the ninth inning.
The score was 2-2 entering the ninth and that’s when the Yankees turned on the offense, scoring five runs , starting with a dramatic solo homerun off the bat of Russell Martin.
“I definitely wasn’t thinking home run,” Martin told espn.com. “He left a fastball up and I put good wood on it.”
Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who led the Majors with 51 saves, hadn’t made many mistakes all year, but he admittedly made some big ones in game one, including the one that gave New York the lead in the final inning.
“I made mistakes,” Johnson said. “I obviously paid for those, and that was location. It wasn’t anything else. Two fastballs that really cost us. Just have to make a better pitch. That’s all it comes down to.”
Both starters pitched well, but it was C.C. Sabathia who stole the show for New York. He was able to keep Oriole hitters off balance for eight and two-thirds innings, striking out seven while only walking one. Sabathia improved to 6-1 as a Yankee starter in the postseason and is 4-0 in the ALDS.
Although Johnson was shelled, the Orioles will hope their closer will get another chance to slam the door on the Yankees tonight in game two. However they will be faced with another experienced postseason hurler in Andy Pettitte, who will be making his 43rd playoff start. The Orioles will counter will the youthful rookie, Wei-Yin Chen who went 12-11 for the O’s in the regular season with an ERA of 4.02.
Normally I would love the Yankees in game two with Pettitte going against the inexperienced Chen, but the Pettitte has missed most of this season due to injury and at his age, will not be the same dependable starter he was for the Yankees in years past. The Orioles and are a scrappy bunch that don’t seem to stay down for long, no matter the opponent. This is a team that beat the Yankees nine of 18 during the regular season, so I expect them to even things up here in the postseason as well with a win in game two. Take the O’s in game two at home, but not necessarily in the series, as the Yankees will most likely get the job done in five games.