It may not have been pretty, and the game was closer than it probably should have been, but a win is a win is a win. During this final week of the season, the Yankees just have to keep on keeping on. Especially this weekend against the Orioles (who have now lost 109 games), winning is the only option as the Yankees need to stay ahead of the Oakland A’s to secure home field for the all-important (win-or-go-home) Wild Card game.
For the first game of this final home weekend, the Yankees turned to C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia has not had a great September, but he got the job done last night. Sabathia allowed two runs off six hits over six innings of work. The better news is that he allowed these runs in the fifth inning only after the Yankees had built a 6-0 lead. And, as we will see, while the bullpen may have tried to give the game away, this effort was enough to earn Sabathia his 8th win of the season.
The Yankees assured Sabathia of a stress-free outing by jumping out to a quick lead in the first inning. Aaron Hicks began the game with a walk. This was followed by an Aaron Judge single. It looked as though a real big inning might be brewing, but much air was let out of this hope when Andrew McCutchen hit a sharp grounder to third that was turned into a double play. Enter Didi Gregorius who sent his 27th home run into the right field seats to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
The Yankees then scored four more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. In that inning, Neil Walker hit a one-out double. He was then driven home on a Gleyber Torres single. Torres then stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. He then scored on an Austin Romine ground out. Following this, Brett Gardner walked and Aaron Hicks hit his 25th home run of the year to give the Yankees the comfortable 6-0 lead.
The Orioles scored their two runs off Sabathia in the top of the 5th around three singles and a walk. Sabathia came back to have an uneventful sixth inning before being lifted. Jonathan Loaisiga was brought in for the seventh inning. The first batter he faced, Austin Wynns homered. Loaisiga then allowed a single before recording a strikeout. Not wishing to fool around, the Yankees went to Zach Britton who allowed a run-scoring single before recording a fly out and a ground out. With the two runs, the Orioles had crept within 6-4.
The Yankees answered right back in the bottom of the inning in the following manner: Hicks (single), Judge (walk), McCutchen (run-scoring single), Gregorius (fielder’s choice), Voit (two-run single). This gave the Yankees the cushion they’d need as they went up 9-4.
A.J. Cole and David Robertson each allowed home runs in the 8th to, again, make it much closer than it needed to be at 9-8, but Aaron Judge added an RBI double to give the Yankees their tenth run in the bottom of that frame.
Dellin Betances pitched the ninth, allowing a lone single. He also recorded a strikeout to preserve the Yankees victory.
Notes - Every Yankee starter recorded a hit except Austin Romine. The A’s defeated the Twins 7-6 to keep pace with the Yankees. The Yankees hold a two-game lead in the loss column with nine games remaining in the schedule for home field advantage in the Wild Card Game.