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Big League Stew

ALDS Game 5: Yankees punch ticket to ALCS with 3-1 victory over Orioles

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

Score and situation: The New York Yankees finally fought off and eliminated the resilient Baltimore Orioles with a 3-1 win on Friday. The Orioles stayed on the Yankees' heels throughout the regular season in the AL East race and pushed them to the limit in the postseason, but New York ultimately prevailed in the decisive Game 5.

Leading lads: Much like Justin Verlander on Thursday, CC Sabathia was at his best when the Yankees needed it most. Sabathia was untouchable for the first seven innings, allowing only one hit. He did allow one run in the eighth, but wiggled out of a bases loaded situation to preserve the lead, and then pitched a perfect ninth for the complete game victory.

Curtis Granderson entered the game 1-for-16 in the series, but stepped up with a monster home run into the second deck and a single. That's great news for the Yankees and could be an encouraging sign for the ALCS as Granderson is more than capable of carrying their offense through a series if he continues heating up.

Head hangers: For all of the talk about Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher struggling for the Yankees, Baltimore's Adam Jones was just as unproductive. Jones, who inked a six-year, $85.5 million contract during the season, finished the series 2-for-23 and had no walks, runs or RBIs.

J.J. Hardy (.136) and Mark Reynolds (.158) also contributed little for Baltimore in the LDS, and that was punctuated by failures to come through against Sabathia in the eighth inning.

Key play: Nate McLouth's rocket down the right field line may have nicked the foul pole. The immediate ruling on the field was foul, and that call was upheld by an inconclusive replay.

Mark Teixeira delivered the Yankees' first hit with a single leading off the fifth. He then immediately stole second base after the Orioles regrettably neglected to hold him on. That put him in scoring position for Raul Ibanez's RBI single that gave New York a 1-0 lead. Any of those three plays would be a great choice from the Yankees' perspective.

Interesting stat: The Orioles .187 team average is the lowest by a team in the ALDS since the Boston Red Sox hit .158 in 2009. The Red Sox were swept by the Los Angeles Angels.

What they'll be talking about: Did it really nick the foul pole? That's the question Orioles fans will be asking for a long time. I agree with 'Duk when he says there was not enough indisputable evidence to overturn the call, but I wonder why the umpires didn't take a longer look at the replay considering the circumstances and the numerous camera angles they were provided for a postseason game. It there was ever a call worth delaying the game a few minutes, that would be it.

The late-arriving crowd and extremely subdued atmosphere in the first few innings already has a lot of people talking.

Also, Baltimore's decision to not hold Teixeira on first base after his single was risky and ultimately proved to be costly. Teixeira was slowed by a calf injury over the final month of the season, but the Orioles should have been more protective of those 90 feet.

What's next: There's no rest for the weary Yankees as they will turn right around and host the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday night. Joe Girardi will likely turn to veteran Andy Pettitte as his starter, while Jim Leyland is expected to counter with Doug Fister.

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