NEW YORK (Reuters) - The season-long battle between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees will come down to one game for a berth in the American League Championship Series and the starting pitchers are raring to go.
The Game Five decider will be held at Yankee Stadium by virtue of New York clinching the AL East title over Baltimore on the last day of the regular season.
”It’s time to go,“ said Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, who won Game One of the Division Series. ”This is what you play for.
“That’s a good team over there we’ve been battling all year, so hopefully I can go out and have a good performance, and keep us in the game and give us a chance to win.”
Baltimore starter Jason Hammel said the teams were accustomed to playing tight games against each other after going 11-11 in their 22 clashes so far this season.
“It is all or nothing, but there’s no reason to pressure ourselves any more,” Hammel said. “We’ve done this a million times this year. It seems like we’ve played these guys to a one-run game every time out. It’s really nothing new.”
Sabathia, who was 15-6 during the season with a 3.38 earned run average, pitched into the ninth inning for his Game One victory, giving up two runs.
Hammel yielded two runs in five and two-thirds innings when he matched up against Sabathia in the opener but did not figure in the decision.
The right-hander made a brilliant start to his 2012 season, winning eight of his first 10 starts before having surgery on his right knee that sidelined him for a couple of months.
He finished with an 8-6 record and nearly matched Sabathia with a 3.43 ERA.
“It’s obviously an honor to be the one toeing the slab,” Hammel said about getting the Game Five start. “We’re very confident that we can go ahead and win one more.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it was a comfort knowing he had Sabathia rested and ready.
“I feel good about the way he’s pitching. He’s pitched extremely well,” Girardi said. “If you have a deciding game, you want your ace.”
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said Hammel tested his knee in a practice session and was cleared to go in what would be just his fourth start since mid-July.
“I think it’s almost in his favor,” the Orioles skipper said. “He’s got some bullets left where a lot of people may not.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford