Photo courtesy Minnesota Twins
Brand-new Target Field hosts its first postseason game tonight.
But the Yankees and Twins are obligated to begin their American League Division Series, so they will. Certainly either of tonight's starters (CC Sabathia and Francisco Liriano) is capable of a dominant performance a la Halladay.
I'll actually be able to watch this one in its entirety, so I'll be sharing thoughts throughout...
AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES — GAME 1
NEW YORK YANKEES at MINNESOTA TWINS
Gametime: 8:37 p.m.
TV: TBS Radio: WTEM-980 AM
Weather: Clear, 62 degrees
YANKEES9:13 p.m. -- Man, did Michael Cuddyer crush that pitch from CC Sabathia. Sent it flying over the center-field fence at Target Field, which is by no means a home run haven. And since Jim Thome was standing on first base at the time, having been plunked in the shoulder by Sabathia moments earlier, the Twins have taken a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
SS Derek Jeter
RF Nick Swisher
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
DH Marcus Thames
C Jorge Posada
CF Curtis Granderson
LF Brett Gardner
(P CC Sabathia)
CF Denard Span
2B Orlando Hudson
C Joe Mauer
LF Delmon Young
DH Jim Thome
1B Michael Cuddyer
RF Jason Kubel
3B Danny Valencia
SS J.J. Hardy
(P Francisco Liriano)
9:32 p.m. -- Big, BIG strikeout of Alex Rodriguez by Francisco Liriano there to end the top of the third with two runners on. Liriano just blew A-Rod away on three pitches, getting him to whiff on an 0-2 breaking ball well inside off the plate. It's certainly way too early in the postseason (and this game) to make any declarations, but you can't help but think that one year ago, A-Rod never would have struck out in that situation. He delivered every single time last October. So far tonight, he hasn't been able to duplicate that performance.
9:45 p.m. -- Great hustle from Orlando Hudson to advance from first to third on a grounder to the right side that required a diving lunge at first base by Mark Teixeira. Then Hudson sprints home on a bizarre passed ball/swinging strike. Terrible swing by Delmon Young, but there was no excuse for Jorge Posada not to catch the ball. Twins lead 3-0 after three.
10:35 p.m. -- Three thoughts: 1) Great piece of hitting by Posada to take that slider from Liriano to right field and drive in the run that cut the Twins' lead to 3-2. 2) Liriano really faded there in the sixth as his pitch count reached triple digits. Ron Darling had a great point on TBS about how young pitchers, when faced with a tough situation like that, tend to try to "Caveman" the batter by overpowering him when they should just focus on locating. 3) Ernie Johnson sounds like he's never broadcast a baseball game before, which is nearly true. He had no idea Curtis Granderson's drive was going all the way to wall just now, and he also had no idea the Yankees scored two runs on the triple to take a 4-3 lead. Sadly, I'd still rather listen to Johnson than Chip Caray.
10:58 p.m. -- Some impressive at-bats from the Twins there in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by rookie Danny Valencia having the patience to work a bases-loaded walk out of Sabathia, tying the game 4-4. But just when you think CC's cooked, he bounces back to strike out J.J. Hardy. So we head to the seventh of a tie game, and this one figures to be decided by both bullpens. Which means we could be seeing Jon Rauch and/or Matt Capps for Minnesota.
11:08 p.m. -- Terrible pitch by Jesse Crain to Mark Teixeira, a hanging slider at the letters, and Tex crushed it just inside the right-field foul pole for a 2-run homer. Just like that, the Yankees retake a 6-4 lead.
11:36 p.m. -- Golden opportunity there for the Twins in the bottom of the seventh: Two on, two out, Jim Thome at the plate. The Yankees had already used their only left-hander reliever, Boone Logan. So it was David Robertson on the mound. And Robertson came up big, getting Thome to whiff at a pitch in the dirt to end the inning. With Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera lined up to pitch the final two innings, the Yankees find themselves in good shape. Best chances for the Twins in this series are going to be in the sixth and seventh, against the lesser portion of New York's bullpen. They couldn't take advantage of it tonight. 6-4 Yanks as we go to the eighth.
12:02 a.m. -- This is something we may be seeing on a regular basis in these playoffs: Joe Girardi summoning Rivera before the ninth inning. After Wood put two on in the eighth, Girardi has called upon his closer to face Denard Span. Runners on second and third, two out. This is the game right here.
12:07 a.m. -- Rivera gets it done in the eighth. He fell behind Span 3-0, but he caught a break when Span fouled off a 3-1 cutter in on his hands that probably would have been ball four. Then on the 3-2 pitch, Span hit a weak grounder to short. Inning over. Yankees still lead 6-4 as they go to the ninth.
12:24 a.m. -- Well, that almost got REALLY interesting there in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, Delmon Young sent a sinking liner to right that Greg Golson appeared to catch just inches above the turf. But the right-field ump (sorry, I don't have the full list of umps at my immediate disposal) ruled it a single. Replay showed it clearly was a catch. So all of a sudden, Thome was at the plate representing the tying run. But Rivera broke Thome's bat on his first pitch, resulting in a weak pop-up to end the game. Yankees win 6-4, rallying from a 3-0 early deficit to take a 1-0 series lead.