October 9, 2010
ALDS, Game Three
Yankees Lead Series, 2-0
Yankees: Derek Jeter (SS), Nick Swisher (RF), Mark Teixeira (1B), Alex Rodriguez (3B), Robinson Cano (2B), Marcus Thames (DH), Jorge Posada (DH), Curtis Granderson (CF), Brett Gardner (LF), Phil Hughes (P)
We had all seen this movie before. We all knew how it was going to end. But we hoped it would be different. I went all out dramatic and I remember writing this:
Win once, with the pressure on, and the series becomes 2-1. That puts the pressure back on the Yankees...at least a bit. Because suddenly they're in a position where they need to win game four or they'll be back in Minneapolis playing a squad that was written off as dead. A squad that, at that point, would be playing with all the confidence in the world. A squad playing in front of a fanbase that would be out of it's nice, friendly, midwestern mind. And there is nothing that would make me happier than seeing the Twins clinch, at home, in front of a Yankee-hostile crowd.
Forget the hype.
Forget everything. Win tonight. All it takes is one win, and this series could be turned right on it's head.
One at a time, let's count to three.
It wasn't to be, of course. We know that now. Brian Duensing had faced the Yankees the year prior in the playoffs, and it didn't end well. It was worse the second time around. New York ousted him before he could finished the fourth, and ended with a line that included more runs allowed than innings pitched. That's not going to win many games.
With a 5-0 lead after four, the Twins put two runners on in the fifth and again in the sixth, but couldn't close the gap. Nick Swisher's homer off of bullpen arm Scott Baker made it 6-0, before Orlando Hudson finally put Minnesota on the board with a single in the top of the eighth off of Kerry Wood. Joe Mauer followed with a walk to put two on with just one out, but Boone Logan and David Robertson tag teamed the last two outs and kept the Twins from mounting a big inning.
Mariano Rivera closed it out with a one-two-three ninth.
2003, 2004, 2009, and 2010. Four times the Yankees took the Twins out of the playoffs, and even if they were clearly the better team on at least three of those occasions and even if some of those games were close, the fact that Minnesota was 2-12 in those four series had a cumulative effect.
But nothing lasts forever. And the next time the Twins see the Yankees in the post-season, both teams are going to be vastly different. There's reason for hope.