Saturday October 13, 2012

NEW YORK -- Yankees-Orioles. Playoffs. Disputed home run to right field. Yankees win.

Sound familiar?

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 Friday in the deciding 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.

Sabathia pitched a four-hitter, wriggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning. It was his first career postseason complete game, and the first for the Yankees since Roger Clemens did it in 2000.

Yet it was another piece of history that this game evoked.

Baltimore again was stung on a close play in right, echoing what happened across the street at the old Yankee Stadium in the 1996 AL championship opener.

This time, with the Orioles trailing 1-0 in the sixth, McLouth sent a 3-1 pitch deep down the right-field line. Eyes turned to right field umpire Fieldin Culbreth, who demonstrably waved foul with both arms.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out to ask for a video review, and five of the umpires 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.


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A stadium usher who wouldn’t give his name, however, said he saw the ball glance off the pole.

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 in the seventh, and the Yankees advanced following their decision to bench the slumping Rodriguez, their $275 million third baseman.

Sabathia took a one-hit shutout into the eighth but allowed Matt Wieters’ leadoff single and Manny Machado’s walk. Mark Reynolds struck out, and Lew Ford -- starting at DH in place of Jim Thome -- hit an RBI single.