(Updated: 3:55 p.m.)
NEW YORK — It all comes down to one game as the Orioles and Yankees finish off an incredible American League Division Series in the deciding Game 5 on Friday at Yankee Stadium.
The Orioles will send Jason Hammel to the mound against New York’s CC Sabathia in a pitching rematch from Game 1 of the series last Sunday. Pitching in his first game in nearly a month, Hammel pitched well over 5 2/3 innings of work, allowing two earned runs and four hits while displaying some shaky control with four walks.
Sabathia earned the victory in game one as he allowed two earned runs in 8 2/3 innings of work to rebound from a mediocre showing against Baltimore in the regular season. The big left-hander makes his 17th career postseason start and is exactly who manager Joe Girardi wanted on the mound in a deciding game.
As for the state of the Orioles bullpen after 7 1/3 scoreless innings in Thursday night’s Game 4 win, manager Buck Showalter anticipated having all relievers available prior to the start of batting practice. Showalter revealed left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and right-hander Chris Tillman were also available to pitch in relief for Game 5. Those two would be the most likely candidates to pitch a potential Game 1 in Detroit on Saturday if the Orioles were to win and advance to the AL Championship Series.
Showalter explained that he regularly asks pitchers how they’re feeling but he ultimately makes the decision whether an individual is available in any given game.
“You don’t put them in that position [to choose],” Showalter said. “I haven’t heard anything that would make me think people are not available. Don’t hold me to it. We can gain something, hear something, find out something between now and game time, but so far so good.”
The biggest names in question for Game 5 are right-handed setup man Darren O’Day, left-hander Brian Matusz, and closer Jim Johnson. O’Day threw 30 pitches in his 2 2/3 innings of work on Thursday night and has appeared in all four games of the series.
Matusz only threw five pitches in Game 4, but he has also been used in all four games of the series and it remains to be seen if Showalter would be willing to use a pitcher still getting acclimated to a relief role for a third straight day. The young left hasn’t appeared in game three straight days since moving to the bullpen.
Johnson has also received extensive work in the series — appearing in all four games — but his 14 pitches to close out the 13th inning on Thursday night were a reasonable amount, making one assume he’d be available for an inning in Game 5 without many reservations.
There were no major surprises in the Baltimore lineup as Lew Ford will start in place of Jim Thome as the designated hitter and Robert Andino will play second base instead of Ryan Flaherty with the tough left-hander on the mound for the Yankees.
However, the Yankees made the bold decision to bench third baseman — and the highest paid player in the league — Alex Rodriguez for the start of the deciding Game 5. The 37-year-old is 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts in the series and will be replaced by Eric Chavez at third base despite the fact that Rodriguez has four career home runs against Hammel.
Game 3 hero Raul Ibanez was back in the lineup for the Yankees, batting fifth and serving as the designated hitter.
Here are Friday’s lineups …
LF Nate McLouth
SS J.J. Hardy
CF Adam Jones
RF Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
3B Manny Machado
3B Mark Reynolds
DH Lew Ford
2B Robert Andino
SP Jason Hammel (2012 regular season: 8-6, 3.43 ERA)
SS Derek Jeter
LF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Raul Ibanez
RF Nick Swisher
CF Curtis Granderson
C Russell Martin
3B Eric Chavez
SP CC Sabathia (2012 regular season: 15-6, 3.38 ERA)