CC Sabathia pitched a four-hitter as the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 to wrap up their division playoff and advance to the American League Championship Series beginning today against the Detroit Tigers.
In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals scored four runs with two outs in the ninth inning to beat the Washington Nationals 9-7 and win that playoff series.
The Yankees, with Alex Rodriguez on the bench, won their best-of-five Major League Baseball series three games to two. Sabathia also won the first game of the series.
“It is what I am here for, it is what I play the game for,” Sabathia, who had nine strikeouts, said in a news conference. “Right now it ranks at the top. So I will go out and hopefully keep it rolling the next time out.”
The opening game of the New York-Detroit series is set for 8 p.m. Eastern time at Yankee Stadium. The Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics in five games to win their division series.
The defending World Series champion Cardinals, who were down to their last strike before rallying to eliminate Washington, begin their NL Championship Series tomorrow night at the San Francisco Giants, who beat the Cincinnati Reds in a five-game division series.
Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma had two-out, two-run singles as the Cardinals rallied in the ninth inning. St. Louis trailed 6-0 after three innings and was behind 7-5 entering the ninth inning.
“When we were down 6-0, we could have rolled over,” Descalso said in a television interview. “But we have grinders on this team, and we just ground it out.”
The Yankees are the 5-2 favorite to win the World Series, according to the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book. The Tigers and Giants have 11-4 odds, with the Cardinals at 3-1.
The Yankees and Nationals began the postseason as 5-1 co- favorites to win the championship. The Orioles, who ended a run of 14 straight losing seasons in 2012, were given the worst chance of winning the World Series at 18-1, meaning a winning $10 bet on Baltimore would have yielded a $180 profit.
The Yankees, who did not have a baserunner in the first four innings, scored in the fifth when Mark Teixeira led off with a single, stole second and scored on Raul Ibanez’s single.
Ibanez was the hero of the Yankees’ Game 3 win against Baltimore with a game-tying pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning and game-winning homer in the 12th.
Ichiro Suzuki added a run-scoring double in the sixth to give New York a 2-0 lead, and Curtis Granderson hit a solo home run in the seventh.
The Orioles, who had only one hit in the first seven innings against Sabathia, finally scored in the eighth on three singles and a walk. Designated hitter Lew Ford drove in the run for Baltimore, which had the bases loaded with one out and failed to score again.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter sounded wistful when asked in a news conference about his team, which went 93-69 this season after a 69-93 record in 2011.
“They’re a special group, you don’t know how many times you’re going to pass this way,” he said. “It’s been about as much fun as I’ve had in the big leagues seeing how they play the game every day.”
Rodriguez, 37, who was taken out of the starting lineup because he is 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts this postseason, did not play. The three-time Most Valuable Player, who is fifth on the MLB career home run list with 647 and has the highest salary in the majors this season at $29 million, was replaced by Eric Chavez.
Girardi avoided a question about whether he plans to return Rodriguez to the starting lineup against Detroit.
“I am going to worry about tonight,” he told reporters. “And I’ll have a lineup for you tomorrow.”
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