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Jeter, A-Rod, Sabathia fuel Yankees' Game 1 win

Oct 8, 2009, 12:58 AM EDT

Given the circumstances, the only real surprise from Game 1 of the ALDS is that the Twins jumped out to an early lead.
After playing 12 innings to decide the AL Central crown Tuesday night and arriving in New York at around 3:30 a.m. local time for a 6:07 p.m. game, the Twins drew first blood with a pair of third-inning runs before 26-year-old rookie Brian Duensing predictably struggled in his first taste of the playoffs, at Yankee Stadium, against baseball’s best offense (with a bespectacled Jay-Z looking on, no less).
Derek Jeter quickly erased Minnesota’s early lead with a two-run homer in the next half-inning and Nick Swisher’s run-scoring double–with the aid of shoddy throws from both left fielder Delmon Young and shortstop Orlando Cabrera–in the fourth frame gave New York the lead before the Yankees broke the game open in the fifth inning. Jeter drew a leadoff walk and came around to score on Alex Rodriguez’s first postseason hit with runners in scoring position since approximately 1942.
With the Yankees up 4-2 manager Ron Gardenhire gave Duensing a quick hook, pulling the southpaw with two outs despite left-hander Hideki Matsui coming to the plate. Duensing held left-handed batters to just .244/.311/.268 this season, but Gardenhire chose to bring in fellow southpaw Francisco Liriano and his slightly worse .255/.325/.307 mark against lefties. Whether he thought that Duensing was tired after throwing 79 pitches or Liriano was simply a better matchup against Matsui the move didn’t work.
Matsui got ahead of Liriano and homered on a 2-1 pitch, putting the Yankees up 6-2. New York tacked on another run against Liriano in the seventh inning and Minnesota went just 4-for-23 with four singles and one walk after scoring the pair of third-inning runs. Armed with a five-run lead and an off day next on the schedule the Yankees’ bullpen went into full shutdown mode with Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, Joba Chamberlain, and finally Mariano Rivera relieving CC Sabathia after his 6.2 innings of two-run ball.
Sabathia pitched well despite some shaky work behind the plate from Jorge Posada, striking out eight, walking none, and allowing just two extra-base hits after coming into the game with a 7.92 ERA in five previous playoff starts. And once armed with a lead the Yankees’ bullpen trio of Hughes, Chamberlain, and Rivera–with a little Coke mixed in against tough left-handers–is going to be awfully tough to come back on throughout the postseason.
About the only negative from the Yankees’ point of view is that Mark Teixeira went 0-for-4 and hit into a double play, but the rest of New York’s incredibly deep and dangerous lineup picked up the slack and the quintet of pitchers combined for a dozen strikeouts versus just one walk. Sabathia working into the seventh inning before handing things over to Rivera and company is a combination that looks capable of carrying the Yankees deep into October, and he’s now won seven of eight starts versus the Twins.
Luckily for the Twins they have matchups against the far more hittable A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte before Sabathia’s turn in the rotation comes around again in Game 4 and today’s break in the schedule gives them a chance to set up their own rotation after throwing Duensing almost by default. As noted in my ALDS preview Nick Blackburn against Burnett is the Twins’ most favorable matchup of the series and that’s on tap when play resumes tomorrow night for Game 2.

  1. bh0673 - Oct 8, 2009 at 5:10 PM

    NO the playing field isn’t level but again it was the players went on strike over a salary cap. And that was a year 1994 when the Yankees and Montreal looked to be a lock for the post season talk about being short changed as a fan. SO do you think when Youklis and Padroia become free agents the Red Sox should let them go? The Yankees paid big to keep Jeter but the bar that the Yankees had to meet was set by other teams in the league. But lets step back for a moment and not be fans but just objective, baseball is a entertainment business and like any other entertainment business to draw a bigger audience you pay for the biggest stars, but just spoending money doesn’t buy a championship if that were the case the Yankees would have made it every year at least past the first round. Secondly the Yankees have to compete with the Red SOx both the Steinbrenners and John Henry put their money into their teams because their fans will come out so should they not do that? Dump the unbalanced schedual I would dump even interleague it is getting old 6 games against the Mets every year is over played, allow each big market team to visit each small market team for two home stands so they can reap the revenue and let each player face equal pitching. Good example look at Mauer great catcher but before we annoint him the greatest I would like to see him face Red Sox and Yankee pitching 18 games each and lets see what his average is. or Pujols if most of his games are played in a weaker league would his number be as good as they are. IT isn;t the money, money doesn’t buy a championship I am a Yankee fan I know that we haven’t been to the WOrld Series in 6 years. It is the game itself that has a bigger impact. Tampa is a good teams in a no win division,put them in the AL or NL Central and they would dominate.

  2. bh0673 - Oct 8, 2009 at 5:25 PM

    You and I both know the Red sox and the Yankees are successful franchises and being successful they sell tickets, merchandise and have a fan base outside their home market. TV revenue is higher I am sure NESN brings in a good amount of revenue as does YES. The other owners can spend more and build a winning team, no they maybe can’t afford a superstar but again most of the high salarie were the result of poor spending by middle market and small market teams. BAck in the 90’s Cleveland had a great team and sold tickets, Baltimore used to be sold out every game with a good core and a few big names. Too many owners don’t do for their fans what they should and instead of blaming their own teams they shed blame on the big markets. As I said it isn’t payroll look back at every team that made the playoffs since 95 and other then Boston and New York the balance was very good. Seattle, Cleveland, Colorado, Florida, Tampa, Texas, Minnesota, Milwaukee and when they were winning they sold tickets and had a strong loyal fan base and what did they do trade away talent and not resigning their own free agents. Don’t blame the Yankee or Texas for doing what other teams can do but choose not to.

  3. mughi505 - Oct 8, 2009 at 5:51 PM

    = Boring
    Are they really still playing baseball????
    Nobodies watching.

  4. pae - Oct 8, 2009 at 6:26 PM

    Was allowed to purchase via pre-sale. Supplied a password from the Yankees to logon as season ticket holder for pre-sale.

  5. Albany - Oct 8, 2009 at 6:30 PM

    = Boring
    Are they really still playing baseball????
    Nobodies watching.”
    Another sore loser makes his weakness show. It is good you are not watching. Your whining might never end.

  6. Bob Bob - Oct 8, 2009 at 7:40 PM

    I have this constant urge to beat Jeter with a 2×4. I think I first had this condition in 1996. It continues to this day.
    He’s a fine and talented ballplayer but every time I see his face – like the one in the picture above, it seems to demand that 2×4 be slammed into it. Repeatedly.
    How long a drought would be justice for the Yankees? Someone mentioned 86 years. Far too short. Maybe 160. It must last long enough that news stations will do stories about the last living Yankee fan to see them win a World Series. Then add about 50 years.

  7. Albany - Oct 8, 2009 at 8:10 PM

    Bob, I would suggest you call your Employee Assistance Program or your psychologist or your parole officer and get some help. Your violent tendencies are well beyond just talking smack. After 13 years of this condition I cannot stress to you more how scary you sound. Just because you want things your way does not mean you will have it. You know what you ask for will not happen and it is too unrealistic to expect so. Get help and let it go. Leave the garage door open when you start your car.

  8. Brad - Oct 9, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    I tend to agree with Albany about Boob Boob! Maybe he forgot to take his meds this morning. Don’t understand these violent attacks against atheletes just because he isn’t a Yankee fan. I’ve been a Yankee fan since Maris & Mantle but never wished or wanted to bashanother teams player! C’mon dude, get a life.

  9. fajar - Oct 12, 2009 at 2:51 AM

    A great TEAM win and its 1

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