On Wednesday night, Raul Ibañez dramatically bailed out the Yankees after yet another floundering performance by their offense in the ALDS. But in Thursday night's Game 4, there was no such hero, and after their 2-1, 13-inning loss to the Orioles, the Yankees find themselves in a deciding Game 5 they had hoped to avoid.
"Obviously this wasn't the way we would have liked for it to happen,'' Nick Swisher said. "But just the battles we've had with them all series and all season long [11 victories each], it was almost inevitable there was going to be a Game 5.''
Added Derek Jeter: "We've been pretty evenly matched, it seems, like the entire year. See what happens in Game 5.''
"It's time to go,'' Sabathia said. "You know, this is what you play for. That's a good team over there we've been battling all year, so hopefully I can go out and have a good performance and keep us in the game and give us a chance to win.''
Sabathia has been on a roll, but he'll likely need more offensive help. The Yankees went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10, the continuation of a trend established early in the series. Three of the four games have been decided by one run and the fourth was tied entering the ninth. Yankees starters are 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA; Orioles starters have a 1.82 ERA.
"You come over here, you say we're struggling to score runs, you go over there in the other clubhouse, they talk about how well they pitched,'' said Jeter, who was the DH because of a bone bruise in his left foot but expects to be at short for Game 5. "It goes both ways. It seems like I tell you guys every year, good pitching beats good hitting. That's just how it goes in the postseason. But we need to find a way to score more runs, obviously.''
Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who was charged with five runs in the ninth inning of Game 1 and allowed Ibañez's tying homer in the ninth inning of Game 3, pitched a perfect 13th. He retired Eric Chavez, pinch hitting for Alex Rodriguez, on a liner to third to end it. It marked the second straight game in which A-Rod gave way to a pinch hitter. The previous night, Ibañez batted for him in the ninth, tied it with a home run, then won it with a homer in the 12th.
"We have to come out and play a good game,'' said A-Rod, who is 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts and again said he was OK with Joe Girardi's decision to remove him. "We have to find a way to win a game.''
Joba Chamberlain, who pitched a scoreless 11th and started the 12th, left after Matt Wieters led off with a broken-bat single to left. The barrel of the bat twirled straight at Chamberlain (who missed much of the season after suffering a bizarre ankle injury on a trampoline during spring training) and hit him on the right elbow. He threw several warmup pitches in front of Girardi, trainer Steve Donohue and pitching coach Larry Rothschild and said he could continue. But after watching him, Girardi called on Phelps, who retired three straight. X-rays were negative, but Chamberlain, who wouldn't rule out the possibility of pitching in Game 5, suffered a right elbow contusion.
"I've been in every situation, it seems,'' said Chamberlain, who was attacked by midges in Cleveland in the 2007 ALDS. "But thank God it didn't hit me in the head. I'll take this over it hitting me in the head.''
The night began on a somber note as the stadium observed a moment of silence for Girardi's father, Jerry, who passed away Saturday. Girardi will attend services Monday.
"It's kind of what we've been used to the whole year,'' Girardi said of the winner-take-all game against the Orioles. "It's been a grind. It's been a fight to stay ahead of this club the whole year, and it's pretty fitting.''
Orioles manager Buck Showalter is curious to see if his team will respond as it did in its wild-card playoff game against the Rangers. "Anything worth accomplishing comes with some real prices to pay,'' he said. "You know, the baseball gods let you up off the deck if you stay true to the game . . . We've got a big challenge ahead of us [Friday], but we have an opportunity.''