For the first time in a long time we didn’t have to drive to New York for the start of the postseason. Because the Yankees slipped out of the AL East division lead and “settled” for the Wild Card, they opened on the road. This was lucky since both corwin and I couldn’t get away from work this week, and would have had to sell our ALDS tickets. Instead, the game(s) in New York will happen this weekend when we can go!
I don’t for a moment believe that the Yankees actually WANTED to slip to the Wild Card, though many fans in Minnesota do. I’ve seen many blogs and tweets from folks in the Twin cities saying that because the Yankees always dominate the Twins in the postseason, they actually plotted to lose the division so they would get the Minnesota matchup.
I don’t believe the conspiracy theories, but I do think maybe Joe Girardi thought to himself that it wouldn’t be SO bad to face the Twins if it meant he could get everyone to October healthy and decently rested, instead of drained from the AL East chase. If anything, the Rangers have made it look like the Rays are the tired ones, holding them to a single solo homer over the past two nights, winning 5-1 and 6-0.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are sitting pretty, having won both games at the brand new Target Field.
The Yankees have now won nine postseason games in a row against the Twins. How’s this for a crusher? The Twins have had the lead in every single one of those games. Reports today said that after last night’s loss, Ron Gardenhire went home and burned his uniform. Perhaps that’s why he had such a chapped ass over Hunter Wendelstadt’s strike zone. (He was tossed from the game, but failed to light a fire under his team.)
You can read play by play recaps a million other places these days, so I won’t attempt to recreate the games blow by blow. I will note some significant observations… andd some trivial ones, just cuz.
Cashman comes out smelling like a rose once again as Granderson, Berkman, and Kerry Wood have all looked brilliant. Granderson had three more hits tonight and a sacrifice, with an RBI and a run scored. This after the triple and such last night. Berkman had the big solo home run in the fifth to put the Yankees up 2-1, and then the big RBI double to the wall in the seventh to put them ahead again after Pettitte had made one mistake to Orlando Hudson. And Wood has simply been strong strong strong ever since coming from Cleveland. (The joke about building the bridge to Mariano from Wood has already been made, so I’ll skip it. Ha.)
Gardner got going pretty good tonight, and it will be great if he stays hot. Posada, meanwhile, looks cold in the box score but if you watched how hard he has been hitting the ball, you realize he’s mostly suffering that he’s bad luck, hitting a lot of at’em balls. Posada is too much a veteran for me to worry that this will affect him.
Jeter, likewise. He hasn’t looked as Jeterian this season, and yet tonight he had a battle and won it by fisting a bloop into right for an important RBI. And World Champion Alex Rodriguez seems much less anxious overall than the old 1-for-19 A-Rod. He doesn’t hit a home run every time up; newsflash, no one does. He has struck out in a few significant scoring situations over the past two nights. He’s also had two hits in two nights and brought in the Yankees’ first run tonight with a sac fly. He did, for once, strike out after Teixeira was intentionally walked in front of him rather than hitting a grand slam, as he did against these same Twins back in May. I’m not worried about him.
CC Sabathia struggled through last night, but got the job done, while Andy Pettitte cruised through tonight, at one point sitting down 12 in a row. He left having throw only 88 pitches, but given that the last time he threw 100 was back in July, pre-injury, I’d say coming out after 7 stellar innings was the right move. Wood was dominating, and Mariano Rivera has looked better and better with every batter he has faced last night and tonight. Mo was shaky at the end of the season, having some control issues, but Suzyn Waldman mentioned on the broadcast the other night that Dave Eiland made some minute change — something so minute she couldn’t explain the subtlety of it — and that has made all the difference.
So, overall, the Yankees are sitting pretty coming into New York with a 2-0 lead in the series, and their home fans waiting to see them finish off their opponent. If they manage to sweep, it’ll be as if the ALDS was a mere shakedown cruise. They can’t look ahead yet, though. What happens Saturday in the Bronx is going to largely depend on whether Phil Hughes finds that zone where he has everything working or not.
I’ll be there hoping for a win and a leisurely drive back home on Sunday! Sometimes a little luck is all you need.
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