When Brett Gardner singled off of yet another pitch high in the zone to score two, making it 3-0, the ugly beast of Tuesday night was still fresh in my mind, and it looked like this one was about to go the same way. Although the result in both contests is the same, they definitely weren't the same game. So that's a moral victory.
You take them where you can get them.
Joe Mauer homered once, nearly twice, seemingly taking a downward swing on two pitches in the exact same spot over the outer half of the plate. The first once was as close to being a homer at it was to being a long fly-out, but it wasn't the first because it bounced off the left field wall about six inches short of the top, and it wasn't the second because Johnny Damon clearly had trouble picking up the ball. By the time Gardner was over to pick it up, Mauer was on second and Denard Span had scored to make it 3-2. Some wild pitching by A.J. Burnett led to Minnesota's first run.
In the top of the fifth, with one out and runners on first and second base, Anthony Swarzak popped up Alex Rodriguez into foul territory. It was a long run for Justin Morneau, and it's not easy tracking a foul ball over your shoulder, and it's even not easier when you have to climb the bullpen mound just as you're about to make the play, and of course Justin got there...only to get a mitt on the ball, but have it fall to the turf regardless.
Rodriguez would then single to score Derek Jeter from second base, giving the Yankees the cushion they'd need to win. This is what happens when you give people extra chances.
Anthony Swarzak, who was pitching on short notice, was a bit like Scott Baker on Tuesday in that he was inefficient. Too many pitches were his story, and after 91 pitches was pulled following A-Rod's RBI single. Bobby Keppel pitched admirably once again, managing to keep the Bomber offense off the board for his 3.2 innings of work. Mauer did eventually hit that home run, number 15 on the season, once again going the other way to bring the Twins within a run.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Twins faced Mariano Rivera, and crumpled as is the fashion. Span saw a pair of inside pitches, only to ground out. Brendan Harris tried to be patient as Rivera pitched him away, but when he came inside (for ball two) it was called strike three, which is just the way it goes. And Mauer hit the ball on a rope, but right to Jeter, and that was the ballgame.
Minnesota has their best opportunity to win (see: put up some runs) on Thursday afternoon, and it would be great to see them take one of three. Getting swept as you're about to head into the break is a bit of a killer. On a positive note, Mauer's five plate appearances give him enough to qualify for the leader boards, meaning his .388 batting average now officially leads MLB.
Stars of the Game
#3: Jose Mijares (1 IP, 0 R .041 WPA)
#2: Bobby Keppel (3.2 IP, 2 H 1 BB, 0 R, .202 WPA)
#1: Joe Mauer (3-for-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, R, .296 WPA)