The Yankees clubhouse was subdued and businesslike after Sunday's dramatic, 7-2, Game 1 ALDS victory, not surprising considering how many big games most of the players have experienced.
The Yankees were happy for catcher Russell Martin, who hit the game-winning home run off Orioles closer Jim Johnson after a rough season offensively.
"It's awesome," starter C.C. Sabathia said. "He's struggled all year, but his attitude has never changed. He came up with some big hits in September, and that was probably one of the biggest right there. Obviously it was the biggest of the season."
Martin said he loves hitting in tight spots. "You either want to be in that situation or you don't," he said. "And I love being in that situation."
He was surprised to go deep against Johnson, who usually keeps the ball on the ground.
"Against a pitcher of that caliber, you're not expecting to hit home runs at the end there," Martin said. "I was just trying to hit the ball hard, and luckily, he left a ball over the middle of the plate for me. It definitely felt good at the moment and like I lifted my team a little bit."
Sabathia was the other star for New York, falling one out short of a complete-game victory.
"I thought he gave us a great performance," said manager Joe Girardi. "Didn't give up a lot of hard-hit balls tonight, had a really good change-up tonight, and I thought he used it very effectively."
Sabathia showed his mettle in the eighth inning, baffling three straight hitters after J.J. Hardy led off with a double. "That's why we have so much belief in him, because we know that he is capable of doing that," Girardi said.
Asked if he changed his approach after struggling with the Orioles at times during the regular season, Sabathia said no.
"I wish I could tell you I changed my game plan, but I don't," he said, wearing a large wrap on his left arm. "I pitch to my strengths, attacking in and just going off my fastball command. It was working today. My change-up was working really well. These guys know what I'm trying to do. I've faced them a lot. I was able just to execute tonight."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun