The Yankees had to start the division series on the road, but it didn’t slow down their momentum as they grabbed a 7-2 win over the Orioles thanks to a huge top of the ninth.
What we learned …
1. Martin muscles Yankees to win
Even with a low average, Russell Martin still managed to get his share of key home runs this season. None were bigger than when he turned on Jim Johnson’s 2-0 fastball and sent it over the left field wall to lead off the ninth inning of Game 1. It was Martin’s second career postseason home run and it sparked a five-run rally. Ichiro followed with an infield single, Robinson Cano added a two-run double and Nick Swisher added a sacrifice fly.
2. CC sharp
CC Sabathia was dominant in his final three regular season starts, spanning his last 24 innings. Though not entirely dominant early in Game 1, he grew sharper and came within an out of his first postseason complete game. He allowed two runs and seven hits while throwing 120 pitches. His best pitching occurred in the eighth inning during a tie ballgame after allowing a leadoff double to J.J. Hardy. He fanned Adam Jones with a slider, retired Matt Wieters on a broken-bat, first-pitch foul out and got a ground ball from Mark Reynolds. He ended his 11th postseason start as a Yankee by retiring 19 of the final 26 hitters following Nate McLouth’s two-run single in the third.
3. Spotty running
Poor judgment on the bases twice doomed the Yankees early. It happened in the first after Ichiro’s double drove in the first run and again in the fourth when Mark Teixeira’s long single tied the game. Ichiro tried to steal third and was thrown out while Teixeira tried to stretch his hit into a double and was thrown out easily. The good news was those misadventures didn’t bite the Yankees due to the five-run ninth.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.