The New York Yankees opened their weekend series with the Oakland A's on Friday night with a walk-off extra innings 2-1 win. Russell Martin stepped into the box to lead off the 10th and ripped an 0-1, 93-mph fastball eight rows deep into the left-field seats. The blast picked up closer Rafael Soriano, who wasted perhaps CC Sabathia's best start of the season.
Sabthia took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. It was broken up by Stephen Drew, who led off the sixth by taking a pitch back up the middle and dropping it in front of Curtis Granderson. The Yankee ace got into a bit of a jam in his final inning, the eighth, but he induced a flyout to left to end the threat. The A's loaded the bases with a couple soft hits, but Sabathia dug in and preserved the one-run lead.
CC was fantastic all evening, confounding the A's for 11 strikeouts in eight shutout innings. He had the fastball hitting in the mid-90s and the breaking ball diving out of the zone as the A's consistently swung over the top of it. Sabathia has had an inconsistent second half to the season and also dealt with an injury speed bump. He entered the game coming off three consecutive losses but with less than two weeks to play, the big lefty looked to be in his ace form on Friday night.
Sabathia's efforts, however, were blown in the ninth when closer Rafael Soriano grooved one to pinch hitter Brandon Moss. Soriano got away with one on the pitch prior to the homer, but Moss made him pay a moment later when he absolutely crushed one high into the night and deep into the right-field seats. It was Soriano's fourth blown save of the year, and it was no-doubter as soon as it left the bat.
But Martin would pick up his closer in the Yankees first extra-innings at-bat. It was New York's sixth straight win and their ninth in the last 10 games. The Orioles and Rays also picked up wins to keep pace in the AL East. Baltimore's 4-2 win at Fenway keeps them just one game back of the Yanks.