"He didn't pitch all five, but it certainly felt like it, didn't it?" Showalter said.
Since going winless in four straight starts in late August and early September, Sabathia is 4-0 with a 1.51 ERA in five outings.
"He's our go-to guy," Jeter said. "He's been our go-to guy since he's been here."
Sabathia took a one-hit shutout into the eighth but allowed Matt Wieters' leadoff single and Manny Machado's walk. Mark Reynolds struck out, and Lew Ford — starting at DH in place of Jim Thome — hit an RBI single.
Andino hit a bouncer to the third-base side that Sabathia gloved, but Eric Chavez left third uncovered and Sabathia's throw to second was late, leaving the bases loaded. With David Robertson warming up in the New York bullpen, McLouth struck out on a changeup and Sabathia escaped when J.J. Hardy hit a slow three-hopper to shortstop that Jeter, playing on a sore left ankle, charged and gloved elegantly before throwing to first just in time.
Sabathia pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, finishing a 121-pitch effort as Wieters hit a comebacker. The Yankees ran out of their dugout to celebrate on the third-base side of the mound and the Orioles walked off slowly and somberly.
New York doesn't have much time to get ready for the Tigers. Andy Pettitte, the career postseason leader with 19 wins, starts for the Yankees with a rested bullpen behind him, opposed by Doug Fister.
"I came back to hopefully help this club get into this position," Pettitte said.
For Baltimore, which beat Texas in the first AL wild-card playoff, it was a disappointing ending to a renaissance season for the proud franchise. The Orioles went 93-69, finishing behind the Yankees in an AL East race decided on the final night, and ended a streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons.
"It's been about as much fun as I have had in the big leagues watching how they play the game every day, the standard they held themselves to and the way they raised the bar in Baltimore with each other," said Showalter, who has not reached the LCS in 14 major league seasons.
New York won for the 12th time in 23 meetings between the teams in a matchup so close the Yankees outscored the Orioles 106-102. The teams were within one run of each other at the end of 46 of 52 innings in the division series. New York totaled just 16 runs in the five games and Baltimore 10, ending a dynamic six-week struggle. After 10 different nights in September, the two rivals were tied for first.
"They are a very good club and they are a very resilient club," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You have a bunch of young kids over there that just play the game the right way and play hard. And you think about it, we played 23 games, and there were four runs that separated us. It's an accomplishment for both clubs because they never went away. People thought they were going to go away, they never went away."
A-Rod (2 for 16), Robinson Cano (2 for 22), Swisher (2 for 18) and Granderson (3 for 19) all slumped against Baltimore. The Yankees advanced despite hitting .219 with runners in scoring position (7 for 32) — but Baltimore was 3 for 22 in that situation during the three games in New York.
Slumping Orioles hitter included Wieters (3 for 20), Hardy (3 for 22) and Jones (2 for 23).
"It's just unfortunate a lot of guys got cold at the wrong time," Adam Jones said.
With a 5:07 p.m. start on the first chilly night of autumn, there was an unusual sight at Yankee Stadium at the start — large patches of empty seats. And Baltimore fans could be heard chanting "O'' during "The Star-Spangled Banner." But the ballpark filled up by the middle innings.
The 37-year-old Rodriguez, hitless in 12 at-bats against right-handed pitchers with nine strikeouts, was a spectator, too, in a decision that could have long-term repercussions for the Yankees, who owe him $114 million over the next five seasons. He did not speak with reporters after the game.