Monday, October 12, 2009

Yankees Polish Off Twins

Yankees Complete Sweep of Twins

Written for Baseball Digest Online by: Drew Sarver on 12th October 2009

Solid starting pitching, timely hitting by Alex Rodriguez, and poor base running by the Minnesota Twins. That’s been the standard of this years AL Division Series playoff between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins. The trend continued last night when the Yankees defeated the Central Division title winners 4-1 to to complete a three game sweep of the first round playoff. The Yankees will now face the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who also completed a three game sweep of the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, in the ALCS beginning Friday at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees and Andy Pettitte trailed Carl Pavano and the Twins 1-0 after six innings. That’s right, the former “American Idle” had blanked the Bombers on just two hits up to that point. Pettitte was nearly Pavano’s equal, having not allowed a base runner through four innings, and just one earned run and three hits. That’s when the Yankees newest Mr. October, at least for round one round of the playoffs, struck.

Alex Rodriguez came to the plate with out in the 7th and drilled a 3-2 fastball high atop the wall in right-center field for a game tying home run. In seven career post season game against the Twins, Rodriguez has now driven in nine runs. Pavano bounced back to strike out Hideki Matsui for the inning’s second out, but Jorge Posada went the opposite way for a solo home run to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

The Yankees bullpen then took over as Pettitte exited with one out in the bottom of the 7th. Joba Chamberalin allowed a double to Delmon Young, but retired Brendan Harris and Jose Morales to preserve the lead. Phil Hughes would need a little luck in the 8th inning to do the same.

Nick Punto doubled to lead off the inning and Denard Span followed with a bouncer back up the middle. Derek Jeter cut the ball off, but had no play on Span at first. But the Captain alertly spun and threw home to keep Punto at third. He did more than just that. Punto had gone half way down the line and was now caught in between. He scurried back to third but Posada’s throw beat him to the bag and A-Rod applied the rally crushing tag. Instead of runners on the corners with no one out, the Twins merely had a man on first with one out. Ron Gardenhire, hands a top his head in frustration, looked on in exasperation, his team having run themselves out of another potential big inning.

Hughes retired Orlando Cabrera for the second out and Joe Girardi sent for Mariano Rivera to face Joe Mauer. Rivera shattered Mauer’s bat as the soon to be AL MVP grounded out meekly to Mark Teixeira for the final out of the inning.

Posada and Robinson Cano added RBI singles in the 9th and, after allowing a lead off single to Michael Cuddyer, Rivera retired the next three batters for a four-out save and sent the Yankees back to the ALCS for the first time since 2004.

Series Notes

Alex Rodriguez was 5-11 (.455) with 2 home runs and 6 RBI in the series.

The Yankees three starting pitchers – CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte combined to allow three earned runs in 19 innings.

Johnny Damon was just 1-12 in the series and swung and missed his way to the “Golden Sombrero” in Game 3. It comes on the heels of a 22-89 (.247) last month of the season.

Andy Pettitte tied John Smoltz for the most career post season wins with 15.

Joe Mauer was 5-12 (.417) with two walks, but his RBI in Game 3 was his only one in the series.

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