|The big man went out and gave his team an ace-like outing. (US Presswire)|
|More playoff coverage|
Hero: For the second consecutive night, we saw an ace go out and put together a legitimate postseason "ace" game -- at least for eight of his nine innings. Yes, there was a rough patch in the eighth inning, but let's also keep in mind Lew Ford's RBI single was a grounder that found the hole to Derek Jeter's right and the bases were only loaded due to a well-placed chopper (and CC's poor decision to throw to second). Sabathia then bounced back with a huge strikeout of Nate McLouth and got a grounder off J.J. Hardy's bat to end the inning. The final line: 9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. That's a workhorse earning his meal ticket.
Goat: I can't believe I'm doing this because of how masterful he's been all season, but I'm going with should-be AL Manager of the Year, Buck Showalter. Why? Because the Orioles chose not to hold Mark Teixeira on first base with no outs in the fifth inning. Teixeira -- still hampered a bit from a lingering calf injury -- was able to get a huge jump and steal second. This was against Matt Wieters, who is one of the toughest catchers in the majors to steal against. This then took the double play off the board and Raul Ibanez plated Teixeira as the Yankees took a 1-0 lead. In games this close, every run counts and getting on the board first was huge. Also: There isn't really any one player I'd pin this loss on. The Orioles ran into an ace, got good -- not great -- pitching and fought hard late in the game.
Turning point: The Nate McLouth foul ball. I'm still unsure if the ball hit the foul pole or not, but if the umpires overturned the call and ruled it a home run, we'd have had a brand new ballgame. Instead, McLouth struck out and it was 2-0 Yankees before the Orioles batted again.
It was over when: The 2012 Orioles are like one of those horror movie villains who's never dead, even after they've been shot, stabbed and maimed (please don't take that like I actually believe the Orioles were a villain, as they were an utter joy to watch this season). They just keep coming back and back and back again. So it was never over until the final out was recorded.
Next: The Yankees have very little time to celebrate as they host the Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS Saturday at 8:07 p.m. ET.