I think you have to give Twins’ starter Brian Duensing some credit – he didn’t do too badly for a rookie tossed into the lion’s den. I mean, yes, he did get eaten by the lions, but he put up a respectable fight, as did the presumably exhausted Twins. The postseason, as we all know, doesn’t often go exactly according to plan, but events last night unfolded more or less the way the Yankees drew them up, and they eased into a 7-2 win.
Things started off a little disconcertingly, as Denard Span opened the first inning with a double off CC Sabathia (you can’t keep a good Span down). Sabathia got out of that inning, striking out Joe Mauer in the process – despite a passed ball – but couldn’t wiggle out of a jam in the third without some damage. There was a single, a double play, a single, a double, another single, and then another miscommunication with Jorge Posada, before Sabathia struck out Jason Kubel for the third out, leaving the Twins up 2-0. (After the game Posada said the first incident was his mistake, and the second was Sabathia’s, but that doesn’t explain Jorge’s rather casual approach to tracking down the second passed ball, which resulted in Joe Mauer scoring the Twins’ second run).
So things were a mite tense when, in the bottom of the third, Derek Jeter came to the plate, and dispersed the gathering unease with a two-run homer to tie the game. It was not a very Jeterish hit – how often does he blast one to left field? – but on the other hand, given the timing and circumstances, it was a very Jeterish hit. One inning later, Nick Swisher doubled in Robinson Cano, and the Yankees took the lead for good; they added to it in the fifth with Alex Rodriguez’s two-out RBI single (yep), followed by a big two-run Hideki Matsui blast. Just for good measure, A-Rod added a second two-out RBI single in the seventh, and let’s all hope this marks the beginning of the end of that particular subplot.
Sabathia left after six and two thirds innings with eight strikeouts and nary a walk, and though he did have two runners on base when he left, Phil Hughes took care of that by striking out our old pal Orlando Cabrera after a long, tough at-bat that somehow felt very personal. Funny how that happens once in a while, in a big spot in a big game, if an at-bat goes long enough. (Paul O’Neill used to be the master of that kind of plate appearance, but then, Paul O’Neill took everything personally).
Anyway, with the luxury of a five-run lead and an off-day tomorrow, Girardi rotated through he best relievers, getting everyone a little work. Hughes, Phil Coke, and prodigal reliever Joba Chamberlain each took care of one out in the eighth, and Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth. He allowed two baserunners, but the tension was out of the game by that point, and eventually nature took its course.
I imagine both teams will sleep very well tonight, though for different reasons.
Finally, Jay-Z was in the house tonight, sitting next to Kate Hudson. I thought it was fitting since, if the Yanks go anywhere this postseason, “Empire State of Mind” is already shaping up to be the anthem – it’s Jeter’s at-bat song, a current hit, and a popular pick for Yankee montages. It’s far from Jay-Z’s best, but I kinda like it despite myself.
I’m a sucker for songs about New York, always have been. If was picking one for this series, though, I’d probably go with this one.
Finally, I need your help with a very important issue: the Chip Caray/TBS Drinking Game. Thoughts, suggestions? Let get this thing hammered out by Friday.