(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles needed 162games to determine an American League East champion, so it's only fitting thattheir Division Series reached a decisive fifth game.
The Yankees and Orioles will play a winner take all showdown Friday at YankeeStadium with a trip to the ALCS on the line.
"It's an honor to be in Game 5 with them," Baltimore manager Buck Showaltersaid. "You knew all along that the road to where we want to try to get isgoing to have to pass through there and here."
After a crushing extra-inning loss on Wednesday, Baltimore staved offelimination in Game 4 on Thursday, as J.J. Hardy's RBI double in the 13thinning lifted the Orioles to a 2-1 victory.
The hit made a winner of Pedro Strop (1-0), who allowed one hit and struck outtwo over two scoreless innings of relief.
Nate McLouth hit his first career postseason homer in the win, while JimJohnson pitched a perfect 13th to record his second save of the series.Johnson, of course, served up a game-tying home run to Raul Ibanez in theninth inning of Wednesday's 12-inning setback.
David Phelps (0-1) surrendered the deciding run to take the loss.
Robinson Cano knocked in the lone run for New York, which hit 0-for-9 withrunners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
"It's playoff baseball and the games are extremely tight. Usually thedifference in these games is one hit. That basically has been the difference,"Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's been very good pitching. Theycontrolled the bats for the most part, and it's come down to one hit."
Alex Rodriguez continued to struggle and is just 2-for-16 with nine strikeoutsin the series. He's not the only one, though, as Curtis Granderson (1-for-16),Cano (2-for-18) and Nick Swisher (2-for-15) have all failed in big spots.
"We're obviously frustrated after having several situations to do somedamage," Rodriguez said. "We couldn't get it done tonight. Tomorrow's anotherday."
The Yankees are shooting for their third trip to the ALCS in the last fouryears, while Baltimore hasn't advanced past the first round since 1997.
New York should have an edge on Friday with lefty CC Sabathia on the hill.Sabathia was brilliant in his Game 1 win, allowing two runs and eight hits in8 2/3 innings. He also struck out seven and walked a batter in his thirdstraight win overall.
"It's time to go," Sabathia said late Thursday night. "This is a one-gameplayoff and this is what we play for. We're here in the Bronx, at home, andlike I said, I'll be excited and ready to go."
Sabathia is 6-1 with a 3.29 ERA in 11 playoff starts with New York, but haspitched to a 4.56 ERA in 17 career postseason outings.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jason Hammel, who also pitchedwell in Game 1. Hammel did not factor in the decision, but surrendered tworuns and four hits with four walks in 5 2/3 innings.
"It's obviously an honor to be the one toeing the slab," said Hammel, whoallowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Yankees on Sunday. "But it'sbeen a team effort to get here ... We're very confident that we can go aheadand win one more.
"It is all or nothing, but there's no reason to pressure ourselves anymore.We've done this a million times this year. It seems like we've played theseguys to a one run game every time out. It's really nothing new."
This will be his fifth start this season against the Yankees, who have managedjust three runs over their last 10 2/3 innings against Hammel.
Showalter may need a big effort from Hammel on Friday, as O's relievers havethrown 11 1/3 innings over past two games.
Including San Francisco and Detroit's wins on Thursday, there have been 18Division Series Game 5s and 11 have been won by the road team. Six of those 11wins have come in the AL.
Of the last 13 opening-round series to go to a Game 5, the home team has wononly three of those contests
The Yankees know that stat all too well, as they dropped a decisive fifth gameat home last year to Detroit. They are also 5-4 all-time in best-of-five Game5's.
The Tigers, of course, won a Game 5 of their own on Wednesday and will playthe winner of Friday's game in Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday.
The Orioles and Yankees are certainly no strangers to one another and inaddition to splitting 18 regular season meetings this season, these teams alsomet in the 1996 ALCS, a series won by New York, but one that was made famousby the Jeffrey Maier catch.
New York won that series in five games.