Through seven innings, it sure looked like CC Sabathia was going to throw a shutout in the Yankees' biggest game of the season. He'd thrown only 86 pitches, given up just one hit and one walk, and just one Oriole runner had touched second base all evening. Backed by three runs, Sabathia (and the Yankees) seemed invincible.
Well, nobody's invincible. In the eighth, Sabathia suddenly seemed vulnerable. Matt Wieters led off with a single, and rookie Manny Machado drew a five-pitch walk. Sabathia fell behind in the count to Mark Reynolds, but ultimately struck him out swinging on a gutsy full-count curveball.
Crisis averted? Yes, but for just a moment. Because with right-hander David Robertson warming up in the bullpen and Sabathia's pitch count mounting, Lew Ford drove a grounder toward left field that a diving Derek Jeter couldn't quite corral. Wieters scored, with Machado stopping at second.
Next, Robert Andino hit a slow chopper to Sabathia's right; by the time he snagged the ball, nobody was covering third base and his throw to second was too late for the force-out.
Bases loaded. One out.
Sabathia struck out Nate McLouth.
Bases loaded. Two outs.
Sabathia didn't strike out J.J. Hardy. This time he struck a blow for democracy, instead inducing a weak grounder to Jeter, who charged, threw, and got Hardy at first base by a full step.
It was a little hairy there for a while. But while Sabathia didn't have to pitch out of the big jam, he did. And so heading to the bottom of the eighth, it's Yankees 3, Orioles 1. - neyer