Well, game one is in the books, and the Yankees came out on top, 7-2.
At first I thought it was another disaster waiting to happen. When the Twins jumped out to a quick, 2-0 lead in the top of the third, I sensed disaster brewing. I’m sure I’m not the only fan who thought so, too.
Two passed balls from Jorge Posada and an RBI from Michael Cuddyer in the third made me so skeptical; I thought to myself, “Here we go again. Another postseason flop.”
According to Yankees’ game one starter CC Sabathia, one of the passed balls was his fault, the other was Posada’s, and the Yankee ace admitted the battery got crossed up.
But the Yankee Captain did what he does best: delivers in the playoffs. Derek Jeter smacked his 18th career postseason home run, a two-run bomb that landed behind the left field wall. That blast put the Yankees back in the game, tied the game, 2-2, and ignited the Yankee Stadium crowd.
I mean, that crowd was dead before Jeter’s homer. With the Twins ahead things weren’t looking great for the Bombers. But I guess we should’ve expected the homer; in a way I actually called it (long story, though!) In any event, it was huge for Jeter to come up in that spot and be able to deliver.
Nick Swisher was able to come up big, wrapping an RBI double to score Robinson Cano in the bottom of the fourth, to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. The Yankees never looked back after Swisher’s double.
Of course one of the bigger stories of the night was Alex Rodriguez. Would he be able to deliver? Would he be a goat, much like he was in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007? All of these questions didn’t seem to bother A-Rod, who was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Everybody talks about A-Rod choking in the playoffs. Maybe he learned the Heimlich maneuver, because he looked pretty solid tonight. He looked like the same player he was all year.
“It was very important,” Rodriguez told the press after the game. “It felt good to contribute and it was just another great team effort. It’s not about individual stats, it’s about teamwork. And it’s exciting.”
Rodriguez now owns a .255 average with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 25 postseason games.
Three out of the four at-bats A-Rod had tonight, he hit the ball extremely hard. I was convinced when he flew out the right field in the first that if the wind wasn’t as bad as it was, the ball probably would’ve landed in the short porch. He hit it that hard.
Obviously Rodriguez was happy with tonight’s win and he has good reason to be. But I also think he understands that there is still work to be done and the Yankees still have 10 games to win in order to be called Champions.
And then there was Hideki Matsui, who just this week won Yankee Yapping Comeback Player of the Year.
In the bottom of the fifth, Matsui followed Jeter’s lead, blasting a two-run homer to center field that landed in Monument Park to help pad the Yankees’ lead.
“To be able to hit it at a time like this and also knock in runs that led to the win, it doesn’t get any better than this,” Matsui told the press through his interpreter. “I wasn’t sure it was going to carry that far, so as I was running I was hoping it was just going to keep going.”
Matsui’s home run was his seventh in postseason play and he raised his postseason average to .303.
And the Yankees would be nowhere tonight without Sabathia. The ace went 6 2/3 innings, giving up only two runs on eight hits. He walked none and struck out eight.
“I felt good and it helped not having to pitch as much in September,” Sabathia told the press. “It was the first playoff game in the new stadium and I wanted to go out and do as well as I can.”
Sabathia also expressed his happiness with his pitch selection tonight, saying his cutter and changeup were both moving through the strike zone effectively, although he did note that his fastball command wasn’t as good as it could have been.
I think you also have to consider the Yanks’ bullpen in this game: 3 1/3 innings, no runs, one hit. It’s a wonderful thing.
My overall feeling on this game: good. I was impressed that the Yankees didn’t allow the hot Twins to keep on rolling; the Twins’ beat didn’t go on, it came to a
screeching halt at the hands of the Bronx Bombers. Momentum is on the Yankees’ side right now, right this minute.
Game two will be played Friday at 6:07 at Yankee Stadium. A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04 ERA) will square off against Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.03 ERA)
As far as game two goes, I can only hope the “Mr. Hyde A.J. Burnett” shows up. If he does and the Yankees play as well as they did tonight, the Twins might just be out of this series.
Well, I’ll be back with some more playoff game analysis after game two. We can live it up now, but we still need two more wins in this series.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!