The Twins took another early lead, when they loaded the bases in the bottom of the second and Danny Valencia was able to score Delmon Young on a sac fly. Alex Rodriguez tallied one of his own in the third, and Lance Berkman's unbelieveable home run gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead an inning later.
Both Carl Pavano and Andy Pettitte pitched well tonight. Pavano, for his part, had great movement on his pitches and kept the Yankees off-kilter early on. As the game went along New York was able to put a few more runners on base, but Pavano was always able to come up with the big pitch to avoid big innings. Pettitte, meanwhile, looked hittable early before settling into a groove and owning the Twins through the middle innings. He sent down 12 in a row between the second and the sixth, until Orlando Hudson jerked a home run into the left field seats to knot the score at two.
Minnesota's undoing would ultimately come in the top of the seventh, immediately after Hudson's homer. A couple of close pitches inside led to Jorge Posada coaxing a leadoff walk. Berkman, up once again in a pivotal spot, worked Hunter Wendelstedt's awkward strikezone to his advantage. I'll paint you the picture.
All night, Wendelstedt would give the pitcher inches outside to left-handed hitters. But he took it away on the other side. And so, on a 1-2 count, when Pavano buzzed the inner half of the plate for a clear strike Wendelstedt called it ball two.
It was a bad call. And maybe this kind of thing shouldn't happen in baseball, although honestly it's a debate I don't want to get into. Baseball can institute a hard, computerized strikezone or they can continue to do things as usual, as long as they're consistent. But in spite of that bad call, Pavano picked up his first strike with a sinker that was a good three or four inches outside.
However you feel about the call, Berkman took advantage of his opportunity. He nearly hit another one out, bouncing it off the wall in the left-center field gap, scoring Jorge Posada. Gardy came out and got the boot, which was probably the best thing he could have done at that point. The Yankees would score one more, Jose Mijares came on and picked up and out before intentionally walking Mark Teixeira to set up the double play. Jon Rauch struck out Alex Rodriguez and popped up Robinson Cano to keep the game 4-2.
But once again, the Minnesota offense wouldn't get the job done. They'd go 1-2-3 in their final three chances, unable to capitalize on the momentum from Rauch in the seventh and Matt Guerrier in the eighth, with Joe Mauer's ninth inning single erased on the Twins' second double play of the game. Jim Thome popped out to end it.
Sound familiar? That's because Thome popped out to end game one as well.
Our boys now head right into the heart of hell, with their backs against the wall. All we can do is take it one game at a time. Let's focus on game three for now, and we'll worry about game four later.