Carroll County Times

Yanks get to Johnson, strike first in ALDS

BALTIMORE - Orioles fans waited 15 years for playoff baseball. Then they had to wait an extra two-and-a-half hours for Sunday's game to begin.

And when Game 1 of the AL Division Series between Baltimore and New York did get under way, the fans waited for the Orioles to do what they've done all year long: stay close until the late stages and find a way to win.

It didn't happen this time.

Thanks to Russell Martin's home run in the ninth, New York spoiled Baltimore's postseason party with a 7-2 win in front of 47,841 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles went to All-Star closer Jim Johnson in a 2-2 game to start the ninth, and Martin led off the inning by launching a solo shot to left field on a 2-0 pitch. Johnson, who saved a club-record 51 games during the regular season, hadn't allowed a homer since June 5. He also had a scoreless inning streak of 11 innings intact before the Yankees put a stop to that in a big way.

They tacked on five hits and scored five runs in the ninth, with Robinson Cano's two-run double chasing Johnson and giving New York starter CC Sabathia his eighth career postseason victory.

"I made mistakes," Johnson said. "I obviously paid for those, and that was location. It wasn't anything else. It was just location, mainly two fastballs that really cost us. Just have to make a better pitch. That's all it comes down to."

The fans who waved orange towels and roared after every Yankees strikeout were quieted in a hurry, and many of them headed for the gates when Showalter took Johnson out for Tommy Hunter.

Johnson lasted a mere 1-3 inning and allowed five runs on five hits.

"It's tough going, period," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "There's not much margin for error. Jimmy's been great for us all year, and will be again. Tonight just wasn't his night."

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy led off the eighth with a double off Sabathia that was just fair down the line in right, giving the Orioles a solid scoring chance. But Sabathia struck out Adam Jones, got Matt Wieters on a foul pop and Mark Reynolds on a grounder to short to end the threat.

Sabathia improved to 5-1 in Division Series play.

The Orioles were 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and had chances in the late innings to take the lead - to no avail Sunday night against Sabathia.

"He's a complete guy," Showalter said. "I don't think it's necessarily as much us as it was the type of command he had tonight."

Mark Teixeira's RBI single off the right-field wall scored Alex Rodriguez and tied the score at 2-2 in the fourth inning. Right fielder Chris Davis bare-handed the carom, however, and threw out Teixeira trying to reach second. After an intentional walk to Curtis Granderson, Hammel got Martin to fly out to center to end the frame.

Sabathia was perfect through two innings, but the Orioles took the lead in the third.

Davis and Lew Ford started with singles and Robert Andino sac-bunted them into scoring position. Nate McLouth, who grounded to first in his first at-bat, ripped the first pitch into right field and both runners scored, putting Baltimore ahead 2-1.

Derek Jeter singled to lead off the game and Ichiro Suzuki followed with a double into the left-center gap. Jeter was running on Hammel's pitch and scored easily to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

Suzuki tried to steal third when Hammel delivered his first pitch to Rodriguez, but catcher Wieters gunned him out to charge up the crowd again. Hammel got out of trouble from there, but his pitch count in the early innings was somewhat of a concern.

Hammel lasted 5 2-3 innings and struck out five, throwing 112 pitches and walking four.

The start was delayed for 2 hours, 26 minutes because of rain showers but the fans stayed to soak up as much playoff atmosphere as possible.

They left with the Orioles down 1-0 in the series and needing a win in Game 2 tonight to send it back to New York even up.

"I don't have any doubt what type of mentality our guys will have as we go forward in this series," Showalter said. "But that's another thing, kind of like [Johnson]. To me what our club has gone through this year and the way they've responded, that's a real easy question to answer."