Sabathia (2-0) gave up only one run on four hits and a walk, while striking out seven for the Yankees, who swept the Twins in a Division Series matchup to advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2004.
It was Sabathia’s second strong start of the 2009 postseason, as he has now allowed just two earned runs and struck out 15 in 14 2/3 innings. Prior to this season, the left-hander had posted a 7.92 earned run average in five postseason starts.
“To pitch eight innings against this club and give up only one run, that’s quite a performance,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia. “He kept the guys that can create problems off base all night…He was sensational.”
Hideki Matsui went 2-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs, while Johnny Damon added two hits and scored twice for New York. Mariano Rivera threw a scoreless ninth inning to pick up the save.
Angels starter John Lackey (1-1) took the loss after allowing four runs on nine hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. However, only two of those runs were earned, as Los Angeles committed three errors, including one by Lackey himself.
“It was a grind, for sure,” Lackey said. “I was pretty much in the stretch from the get-go and kind of stayed there. It was definitely not a game where I got…long stretches of consecutive outs.”
Kendry Morales had an RBI single in the loss for the Angels, who swept Boston in the ALDS round to advance.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Saturday back at Yankee Stadium, and it is expected to have more wet and cold weather. Friday’s game was not interrupted by rain delays, though the game-time temperature was 45 degrees, forcing some players to wear balaclavas or hats with earflaps.
Sabathia had not pitched particularly well against the Angels this season, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) in 13 1/3 innings over two starts, both of which he lost.
But Friday was a different story, as he didn’t let Los Angeles get a rally started by retiring the leadoff batter in each of his eight innings.
Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense got started against Lackey almost immediately, as Derek Jeter led off the home first with a single. Damon followed with a base hit to left, and Juan Rivera’s throwing error advanced the runners into scoring position.
Mark Teixeira flied out to shallow left, but Alex Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly to center got Jeter home to get the Yankees on the board. Matsui then popped up to the left side of the infield, but shortstop Erick Aybar and third baseman Chone Figgins had a communication mix-up and let the ball drop between them. Damon ran home on the play, giving New York a 2-0 edge.
“I didn’t hear anything,” Aybar said through a translator. “I saw [Figgins] standing there, and I thought he was going to catch it, but there was no verbal at all.”
The Yankees had another chance in the third, after Teixeira hit a long single to right with two away, then moved to third on Rodriguez’s single back up the middle. However, Matsui grounded out sharply to first to end the threat.
Los Angeles cut its deficit in half in the fourth, when Vladimir Guerrero doubled with one out. Guerrero got great contact on the ball located down and away, but winds appeared to keep it from being a homer, as it bounced on the edge of the warning track.
Guerrero moved to third on Rivera’s groundout, then scored when Morales pushed a single into left.
But after Sabathia set the Angels down in order in the fifth, the Yankees struck again in the bottom half. Damon led off with a double and Rodriguez walked with one out. Matsui then doubled to the gap in left-center, plating Damon, but Rodriguez was called out in a collision at the plate.
Sabathia worked a flawless sixth, and New York got its final run in the sixth thanks to another Los Angeles error. Lackey got the first two batters out before issuing a walk to Melky Cabrera.
Lackey then tried a pickoff move, but it bounced off the edge of Morales’ glove and into foul territory, allowing Cabrera to move to second. Jeter followed with a single to center to drive in Cabrera for a 4-1 lead, and reached second when Torii Hunter didn’t field the ball cleanly.
Lackey was removed for Jason Bulger, who got the final out of the inning and worked a total of 1 1/3 scoreless frames. Matt Palmer followed with another shutout inning of relief for the Angels, but their offense couldn’t get rolling against Sabathia, who threw a 1-2-3 eighth to complete his outing.
Mariano Rivera walked Hunter to begin the ninth, but struck out Guerrero before ending the contest on fly outs from Juan Rivera and Morales.
Dating back to 1995, tonight was the third-coldest LCS game…These teams split the 10-game series during the regular season…The Yankees were 49-1 in the regular season when holding the opponent to two or fewer runs…Jeter finished with two hits for the Yankees…New York was 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 on base…The Angels stranded five…The Yankees’ A.J. Burnett and Angels’ Joe Saunders are set to square off in Game 2.
- Via Sports Network.