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The Bottom Line: Twins Struggle to Hold Leads VS Yankees

Twins 1, Yankees 4

Every game of this series saw the Twins take a lead. In game one it was 2-0. In game two it was 1-0...and then 3-1. Tonight it was 1-0, again. And with the exception of game one, which was all Yankees all the time after the top of the third inning, games two and three could have been won by the Twins if only they could lock it down.

Nick Blackburn pitched very well in game two. And back home, Carl Pavano pitched an absolute gem in game three. Pavano struck out nine Yankee hitters in seven innings, walked nobody and allowed just five hits. Sadly, two of those hits came in the top of the seventh, when Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada each went deep.

Ron Mahay, Jon Rauch and Jose Mijares each walked a batter in the ninth, loading the bases for Joe Nathan with just one out. Nick Punto ignored a stop sign and was thrown out as he tried to dive back to third base. Jason Kubel upped his strikeout total to nine in the series. It's hard not to be a little bitter right now, to not have a sour taste in your mouth, but if you're looking to point a finger for the outcome of this series it can only be pointed at the team we love. And somehow, that makes it even worse.

It was a spectacular season. And that's all I'm going to say for tonight. No analysis, no name-calling, no wallowing in misery. The Minnesota Twins are the AL Central Division champions, and they played their tails off to earn that title. But the fact that I feel like I do only goes to show me how much this team means to me, and I already know that by tomorrow morning I'll be looking forward to the off-season, with the hope that next year...might be the season we finally bring home the World Series trophy.

Congratulations to the New York Yankees, who advance to the ALCS. They made the plays they needed to make, and they took advantage of every single mistake the Twins made in this series. Which is exactly what you expect a championship-caliber team to do, big market or small markeet. Or mid-market, in Minnesota's case.

Thanks for a great season, everybody. I'll see you tomorrow.

Stars of the Game
Joe Mauer: Playing the role of MVP, Joe picked up the Twins' lone RBI of the night.
Denard Span: Two hits for the leadoff guy, along with a stolen base. Solid night.
Michael Cuddyer: A pair of hits for Cuddles, who also had a strong night.
Matt Guerrier: A big scoreless eighth inning.
Carl Pavano: Seven innings of fantastic ball, it was the best I've seen him all year. I definitely would like to see him back next season.

Nick Punto: After starting a rally with a leadoff double in the eighth, he ran through a stop sign from Scott Ulger on Span's chopper up the middle. It killed a rally the team desperately needed.
Brendan Harris: Hitless in big spots tonight.
Jose Morales: Looked overmatched at times; still looking forward to seeing him as Joe's backup next season.
Jason Kubel: Overmatched at all times. Nine strikeouts in the series with three more tonight. Extremely disappointing, sorry Patches.
Ron Mahay, Jon Rauch, Jose Mijares: Walking the bases loaded, with the team on the ropes. It doesn't get any worse than that, it really doesn't.

Alex Rodrigez: I hate the fact that you're such a great ballplayer. I liked him before he came to New York. Like a lot of players.
Andy Pettitte: Pitched a great game. One of the all-time great post-season pitchers.
Mariano Rivera: Continues to amaze, even at this point of his career. His buzz-saw of Mauer to end the Minnesota threat in the eighth was sick.