Yankees, Tigers pounce in ninth inning
AFP Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 12:00 am TWN
BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Catcher Russell Martin helped ignite a five-run ninth inning with a leadoff home run as the New York Yankees beat Baltimore 7-2 in game one of their American League Division Series.
Japan's Ichiro Suzuki added a run-scoring single in the ninth and finished with two RBI, while Robinson Cano also drove in a pair of runs for the Yankees in the Major League Baseball opening round playoff contest Sunday night at Camden Yards ballpark.
Pitcher CC Sabathia allowed the two runs on eight hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over 8 2/3 innings in the win in front of a crowd of 47,841. He had been 0-2 in three starts against the Orioles this season.
"My fastball command was good and I was just trying to work off that," Sabathia said. "Throwing the ball pretty good getting the corners. Tried to stay out there and make some pitches."
Jim Johnson (0-1) surrendered all five runs in the ninth to take the loss for the Orioles.
Rain delayed the start of the game for two hours and 26 minutes.
Baltimore was coming off a 5-1 win over the Texas Rangers in the AL's winner-take-all wild-card playoff.
The next game is Monday at Baltimore as the Yankees will start Andy Pettitte who will go up against Orioles ace Chen Wei-Yin of Taiwan. Chen has 12 wins in the regular season while Pettitte has just five.
At Detroit, Tigers' Don Kelly hit a sacrifice fly to score Omar Infante with the winning run in the ninth as Detroit beat Oakland 5-4 to seize command of their first round playoff series.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five AL matchup with game three on Tuesday in Oakland. The series winner will face either Baltimore or the Yankees in the second round.
Australian right-handed relief pitcher Grant Balfour, who retired the last 26 batters he faced in the regular season, entered for Oakland in the ninth inning to face the best Detroit batters with the game deadlocked at 4-4.
With one out, Infante singled and reached third base on a Miguel Cabrera single. The A's then decided to intentionally walk star slugger Prince Fielder, setting up an inning-ending double play possibility.
Instead, Kelly smacked a long sacrifice fly out to right field. Once the ball was grabbed, Infante tagged up and raced home with the winning run.
"It's unbelievable," Kelly said. "I was just trying to get a pitch to hit. It was a great opportunity."
By taking advantage, the Tigers are on the brink of advancing to the American League championship series.
"To go up 2-0 in front of our home fans is huge," Kelly said. "It's easier to win one out west than to have to win two."
Oakland took a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning when Seth Smith walked, reached second base on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single up the middle by Cliff Pennington.
But the Tigers jumped ahead 3-2 in the seventh after singles from Austin Jackson and Infante and a fielding blunder by Oakland center fielder Coco Crisp.
Crisp tried a basket-style catch as he ran toward a fly ball hit by Cabrera, but the ball popped out of his glove and into the air.
The ball fell into the fingertips of Crisp's glove but squirted out of his grasp as he tried to close his glove around it, falling to the ground and allowing Jackson and Infante to score to give the Tigers the lead.
The A's reclaimed the lead at 4-3 in the eighth inning after a wild pitch by Detroit relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit allowed Yoenis Cespedes to score from third base and Josh Reddick followed with a solo homer to rightfield.
But the Tigers equalized at 4-4 when they came to bat in the eighth when a wild pitch by Oakland reliever Ryan Cook allowed Kelly to score from third, setting the stage for Kelly's heroics in the ninth.
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