Thursday, October 8, 2009

Yanks Too Tough For Twins

We all knew the storyline coming into Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS. The Twins were too tired and had to starting a rookie pitcher. The Yanks were well-rested, starting their ace and should have won easily. But the Twins didn't look like a tired team last night and Brian Deunsing pitched pretty well, they just looked over-matched. Tired is going to dissipate over the course of the series, the disparity in talent won't.

CC Sabathia was put to the test in the first inning after allowing a lead off double to Denard Span. He struck out Orlando Cabrera but the very next pitch to Joe Mauer crossed up Jorge Posada, putting Span on third with one out anyway. The Yanks played the infield back, prepared to give up the run, but CC beared down and struck Mauer swinging on a sweeping slider. It was a big moment for the big man, who got out of the inning with a pop up by Michael Cuddyer.

The Twins did get to Sabathia in the third, even though he erased a lead off single by Nick Punto with a double play ball from Denard Span. Cabrera singled and this time Joe Mauer won the battle, lacing a double to center. Cuddyer then blooped a single to first, driving in the run and moving Mauer to third. There was yet another miscommunication between the Yanks battery, and although it was Sabathia's fault, the ball hit Jorge's glove and he took an unusually long time to track it down, allowing Mauer to score although he hesitated badly before coming home.

As has been a trademark of the Yankees throughout the season, they wasted no time in answering the bell. After the first 8 hitters mustered only two hits and no runs, the Yanks broke through against Deunsing. Melky Cabrera hit a one out chopper up the middle and advanced on a wild pitch. Derek Jeter followed that with a rare homer to left field - only his second in the New Stadium - tying the game at 2 and awakening the crowd.

Sabathia settled down after the third, getting the Twins in order in the top of the fourth. Jorge Posada led off the bottom of the inning with a single then was forced out by Robinson Cano. This turned out well, because the next batter up was Nick Swisher, who ripped a double down the left field line, which rolled around long enough for Cano to score from first (with the help of weak throws by Delmon Young and Cabrera), giving the Yanks their first lead of the game.

The Yanks were back at it in the top of the fifth. Jeter led off with a walk, and was moved over on a grounder by Johnny Damon. Mark Teixeira - who had a rough night - popped out, bringing up A-Rod with a runner in scoring position and two outs. Alex responded by poking one into the gap and expanding the lead to 4-2. That ended Deunsing's night as Ron Gardenhire replaced the lefty with another lefty (Francisco Liriano) to face a lefty who mashes lefties. Hideki Matsui did not disappoint, lofting one that seemed to carry forever to straightaway center, which was the only ball noticeably affected by the wind all night.

Sabathia sat the Twins down in order in the sixth but ran into some trouble and was pulled with two outs in the seventh in favor of Phil Hughes, leaving runners on second and third. Hughes stepped up and struck out Orlando Cabrera leaving CC's solid outing intact.

The final tally was 6 2/3 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 8 hits, 8 strikeouts and perhaps most significantly, no walks. Sabathia threw 71 of his 113 pitches for strikes (62%) and seemed to be ahead of hitters all night. The doubles to Span and Mauer were the only extra base hits.

A-Rod added another knock with two outs and runners in scoring position in the seventh, rounding out his night at 2-4 with 2 RBIs and a run scored. He was second only to Derek Jeter who went 2-2 with two walks, 2 RBI and 3 runs scored.

Joe Girardi used three pitchers in the 8th, Phil Hughes for two batters and then Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain for a combined three pitches. He then dropped the hammer by calling on Mariano Rivera to nail down the 5 run lead in the ninth. Mo did his thing, but was actually the only Yankee pitcher to issue a walk all night.

The Yanks got all they could have asked for: a strong start by CC, a perfect night from Jeter, a long-awaited solid effort by A-Rod, scoreless work from the bullpen and most importantly, the win. It was a bad night for those waiting for Alex and Carsten Charles to choke and the Yanks to boot this one.

It all went according to plan, so it's easy to shove aside the fact that the Twins jumped out early, but it was all Bombers from there on out. Oddly, in 4 out of 5 past ALDSes, including two against the Twins, the series winner has lost Game 1. I think the Yanks will take the "W", though. Feels pretty good, doesn't it?


  1. Love the blog! Is there any chance you have or can direct me to a higher res picture of the stadium pic at the top of the post?

  2. Thanks BMan...

    Yup, right here:

    We usually link to Yahoo or where ever we pull the AP pics from but I forgot to do it this morning.