Pushed to the brink of elimination with a 10-3 loss on Tuesday night, the Yankees knew they'd need everybody to come out and leave everything on the field in Wednesday's Game 5. They got what they wanted, and in so doing, they earned a return trip to Texas.
Lacking his best stuff, CC Sabathia scattered 11 hits over six two-run innings, and the Yankees put an early hurting on C.J. Wilson in winning Game 5 of the ALCS over the Rangers, 7-2. The win moves the series to three games to two in the Rangers' favor, and sends both teams back to Texas.
It was clear from the beginning that neither Sabathia nor Wilson was throwing his best stuff. Sabathia allowed two base hits in the first inning, and Wilson was having trouble commanding his pitches. The difference is that Sabathia was able to pitch around the baserunners, while Wilson was not.
Sabathia escaped potential jams in the first and second innings, and in the bottom of the second, the Yankees were able to get to a struggling Wilson to pull out ahead. After a pair of walks put two on, Jorge Posada drove in the first run of the game with a groundball single to left. Curtis Granderson then followed with a single of his own to right field, and two more runs would score on the play when Jeff Francoeur's throw to third base eluded third baseman Michael Young, and Wilson's subsequent throw home eluded Matt Treanor. The walks, hits, and throwing errors handed Sabathia a 3-0 lead going into the third.
And in the third, Sabathia would work around another runner in scoring position and keep the Rangers scoreless going into the bottom half, when the Yankees added two more against Wilson. Nick Swisher led off the third with a home run to left field, and two pitches later, Robinson Cano lifted a homer to right-center to give the Yankees back-to-back dingers. Those extended the lead to 5-0, and with Wilson on the ropes and Sabathia surviving, things looked pretty good for the hosts.
Sabathia worked around just another runner in scoring position in the fourth, and didn't allow his first run until the top of the fifth, when Rangers backstop Matt Treanor tucked a home run inside the left field foul pole. The Rangers would go on to put two more on base with one out and bring Josh Hamilton to the plate, threatening to pull themselves back into the game, but Sabathia was able to induce a double play off Hamilton's bat to end the inning and preserve the 5-1 score.
The Yankees would get the run back on a Lance Berkman sac fly in the bottom of the inning. Protecting a 6-1 lead in the sixth, Sabathia again got himself into trouble, loading the bases with one out, but Sabathia again wriggled his way out of it, allowing just one run on a groundout by Treanor. Mitch Moreland struck out looking on an inside slider to kill the rally.
From that point forward, it was smooth sailing for the Yankees, who would add a run in the eighth on a line drive solo homer by Curtis Granderson. Mariano Rivera slammed the door in the ninth, clinching the game.
Sabathia got the win for bending without breaking over six innings. The loss went to Wilson, who allowed six runs in five innings before coming out. Michael Kirkman made his playoff debut in relief of Wilson and threw two scoreless innings.
Worth noting is that Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz had to come out of the game in the fifth inning with tightness in his left hamstring. That hamstring has bothered him throughout the season and twice sent him to the disabled list, but the hope is that they got him out before the injury could get any worse. There's not yet any word whether he'll be available for Game 6.