Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - The New York Yankees opted to go without their highest-paid player with their season on the line. Fortunately, the one with the second-largest salary was able to provide a return on the team's investment.
Behind a complete-game gem from CC Sabathia, the Yankees outlasted the Baltimore Orioles by a 3-1 score in the deciding Game 5 of an American League Championship Series filled with nail-biting finishes and dramatic moments.
Perhaps the most captivating plot twist took place before Friday's clincher, with Yankees manager Joe Girardi deciding to bench Alex Rodriguez with the star third baseman mired in a 2-for-16 slump over the first four games in which he struck out nine times.
While Rodriguez's removal from the lineup was the primary pregame storyline, Sabathia (2-0) was clearly the headliner of the contest itself. The ace lefty held the Orioles to a mere four hits and two walks while fanning nine batters in a 121-pitch masterpiece.
Raul Ibanez, whose ninth-inning homer pinch-hitting for a scuffling Rodriguez helped catapult the Yankees to victory in Game 3, singled in another key run on Friday to help New York advance. The Yankees also received an RBI double from Ichiro Suzuki, while Curtis Granderson finished 2-for-3 with a solo homer in the win.
New York won't have much time to savor the result, as it hosts Detroit in Game 1 of the ALCS Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
Lew Ford singled in the lone run for Baltimore, which was making its first postseason appearance since 1997, while starting pitcher Jason Hammel (0-1) allowed two runs on four hits while striking out six in 5 2/3 innings.