The New York Yankees outlasted the rain and division rival Baltimore, scoring five ninth-inning runs to defeat the Orioles 7-2 in the opener of their Major League Baseball playoff series.
The Detroit Tigers took a 2-0 lead over the Oakland Athletics in the other American League Division Series, moving one win from advancing to the AL Championship Series against the New York-Baltimore winner.
In the National League, the Cincinnati Reds took a two-game lead in their best-of-five division series against the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals won the opening game of their series against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
In Baltimore, Russell Martin led off the ninth with a solo home run to snap a 2-2 tie. Ichiro Suzuki drove in another run with an infield single, Robinson Cano added a two-run double and Nick Swisher capped the Yankees’ outburst with a sacrifice fly. All five runs came off Orioles relief pitcher Jim Johnson, who had allowed only one earned run since the end of July.
“It was a well-pitched game on both sides and we were fortunate enough to get to a very, very good closer,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said at a news conference. “Our guys put some good at-bats on him.”
The start of the game was delayed two hours and 41 minutes by rain. Game 2 is scheduled for tonight in Baltimore before the series moves to New York.
The Yankees finished two games ahead of the Orioles in the AL East this season, clinching the division title on the final day of the regular season.
“It’s an unfortunate way to lose this first game, especially at home,” Johnson said. “We’ve battled all year, why would we make it easy now? We’re going to come back and we’re going to play hard.”
The Yankees remained the favorites to win the World Series at 5-2, down from 7-2 at the start of the division series, according to the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book. The Tigers and Reds retained the second-best odds at 7-2, down from of 9-2, with the Nationals improving to 15-4 from 6-1. The Cardinals dropped to 11-1 from 6-1, following by the Orioles (23-1/14-1), A’s (25-1/9-1) and Giants at (34-1/9-1).
CC Sabathia came within one out of pitching a complete game for New York, allowing two runs on eight hits over 8 2/3 innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. It was the longest postseason start by a Yankees pitcher since 2003.
“These guys have been playing good lately and they play good against us,” Sabathia, who improved to 6-1 for the Yankees in the postseason, told reporters. “For us to come up with some runs late was huge. You always want the first game.”
In Detroit, Don Kelly’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning gave the Tigers a 5-4 victory and their second straight win against the A’s. Game 3 is tomorrow night in Oakland.
The A’s began the season 29th in the major leagues with a $55 million payroll, compared to fifth-highest Detroit at $132 million, according to USA Today’s annual survey. The Oakland roster was assembled by General Manager Billy Beane, whose philosophy of evaluating players was the topic of the book “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis, a Bloomberg columnist.
In San Francisco, Bronson Arroyo retired the first 14 Giants batters and allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings as the Reds won 9-0 to move one win from the NL Championship Series. Game 3 is tomorrow in Cincinnati.
“‘Hopefully we can just keep the pressure on these guys,’’ Arroyo said. ‘‘We know we’re in the driver’s seat, but this game is very funny and there’s nothing guaranteed. We’ve got a small ballpark and these guys have a very good lineup.”
Ryan Hanigan had a two-run single in the fourth inning to give the Reds a 4-0 lead and drove in another run during Cincinnati’s five-run eighth inning.
In St. Louis, Tyler Moore’s two-run pinch-hit single in the eighth inning gave the Nationals a 3-2 victory against the Cardinals. It was the Nationals’ postseason debut since moving from Montreal in 2005 and the first playoff game for a team based in Washington since 1933.
“To make it through our first postseason game with a win is crucial,” Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth said. “A lot of times you see teams in their first game, the first time they’re there, and they crack or buckle. We definitely gave a little bit, but we didn’t break.”
Game 2 is today in St. Louis.