Thursday, October 7, 2010

Teixeira Home Run Takes ALDS Opener

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If you have ever watched a professional wrestling match you know that the guy in the, oh let’s say white, blue striped trunks, pounds away mercilessly on the guy in the, oh let’s say grey trunks. It appears the guy in the grey trunks is done for, but suddenly the tide turns and the guy in grey gets off the mat and delivers his own monumental blows. Then it is anyone’s contest. That was the case tonight in Game 1 of the ALDS series between the white, blue striped clad Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees, wearing their road greys. In the end the Yankees rode a Mark Teixeira 2-run, 7th inning home run to a 6-4 win and a 1-0 advantage in the best of five series.

Twins starter Francisco Liriano started out Wednesday night’s game like the ace of the Twins staff he has become. But just as he faltered down the stretch of the regular season, Liriano wore out as his pitch count rose in the 6th inning.

The Dominican born left-hander was dominant early, making Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada look silly for three of his seven strikeouts. He had retired nine straight and cruised into the 6th inning up 3-0. After Nick Swisher was Liriano’s 10th straight victim, Teixeira ripped a double into the left field corner and the tide began to turn. Alex Rodriguez fought his way to a full count walk and Robinson Cano showed why he’s a top AL MVP contender when he delivered an RBI single to right to get the Yankees on the board. Liriano bounced back to strike out Marcus Thames for the second out, but Jorge Posada roped a single to right to cut the deficit to one. Curtis Granderson, who had been criticized all season for his at-bats against left-handers, drove a 94-mph fastball off the wall in deep right-center for a 2-run triple that put the Yankees on top for the first time, 4-3. It also ended Liriano’s night.

Minnesota’s offense had given Liriano support early when Michael Cuddyer hit a 2-run bomb off CC Sabathia for a 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning. A frame later, aggressive base running by Orlando Hudson helped manufacture a third run. The O-Dog singled through the left side and a batter later advanced all the way to third base when Teixeira had to dive to beat Joe Mauer to first base to record the out on Mauer’s tapper. The O-Dog’s hustle paid off when Posada mishandled a Sabathia sinker for a run producing passed ball.

Sabathia couldn’t maintain the lead in the home half of the 6th after he retired the first two hitters. The Twins loaded the bases and Sabathia, showing a rare lack of control, walked rookie Danny Valencia to force in the tying run.

Teixeira’s mammoth go-ahead blast off of Jesse Crain stayed just inside the right field foul pole and allowed Girardi to begin mixing and matching with his bullpen. Boone Logan, David Robertson, Kerry Wood, and Mariano Rivera shut down the Twins the rest of the way and guaranteed the Yankees at least a split when they head home for Game 3 on Friday in New York. Rivera recorded a four out, four broken bat save, getting Denard Span to ground out with the tying runs on base to end the 8th inning and Jim Thome to pop out as the tying run in the 9th.

From Joe Girardi’s press conference,

On Sabathia: “’s odd that he walked that many guys, but I threw the ball decent.”

On Granderson: “Grandy’s been a different guy since August in Texas. He made that little adjustment..he’s a different guy.”

From Ron Gardenhire’s press conference:

On leaving Liriano in to face Granderson: “Granderson was hitting like .188 against him. We wanted to let Liriano try to work his way out of it.”

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