“Right on, Tex!” Alex Rodriguez said to Mark Teixeira as the Yankees were celebrating after their clinch of the ALDS.
“That a boy, Al!” Teixeira loudly responded as they poured champagne over each other’s heads.
Yankee fans, our team has finally gotten over the hump of the first round of the playoffs–an obstacle we haven’t been able to hurdle since 2004. The Bronx Bombers completed a three-game, ALDS sweep of the Twinkies Sunday night, beating them 4-1.
And now the Yankees will advance to the ALCS to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The winner of the ALCS will earn a one-way ticket to the 2009 World Series.
Game Three was yet another exciting game; thrills and chills for both Yankee fans and Twins fans alike.
It started out as a certified pitcher’s duel. Andy Pettitte and ex-Yankee Carl Pavano were both dealing, making it through the first five innings without allowing a run.
The Twins broke the scoreless tie in the sixth with an RBI single to score Denard Span, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. I’ll admit, I was upset and not in the right frame of mind, considering how well Pavano was pitching. I thought it could be a one-run game and the Yankees might fall.
But then came the top half of the following inning.
Coming into this series, Rodriguez had been crucified by the media for his performances in playoffs past. Well, he had a dramatic homer in game two, a pair of RBIs in game one, and in the seventh inning of game three, a game-tying, solo home run over the baggie in right field of the Metrodome.
Talk about silencing your critics and coming up big in yet another clutch situation.
Following Rodriguez later in the inning was Jorge Posada, who delivered a solo homer of his own to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t give up. Posada would later help pad the Yankee lead with an RBI single in the ninth and Robinson Cano also contributed to the offense, knocking in the Yankees’ fourth run later in the frame.
I think the biggest play (or non-play) for the Twins came in the bottom of the seventh and for the second time in two games, they made a costly base-running mistake.
In the seventh, Span tapped a soft liner that looked to be going up the middle for a run-scoring base hit. Derek Jeter managed to scoop the ball, keeping all his wits about him. Running from second base, Nick Punto blew the stop sign from his third base coach, passing third base and dashing his way home.
Punto slipped on the turf on the baseline between third base and home, got up, and raced back toward third. Jeter gunned the ball to Posada at home plate, Posada snapped-threw the ball to third, and after all that, Punto was tagged out by Rodriguez.
Score that crazy play 6-2-5.
Much like the play on Friday night where Carlos Gomez overran second base and was tagged out before Delmon Young scored, it came back to burn the Twins. They shot themselves in the foot again. It was (by far) the biggest play for the Yankees and the worst thing that could have happened to the Twins.
With that play, I can safely say this: Derek Jeter is hands down the most fundamentally sound player in the game of baseball and probably the most intelligent. Jeter maintained perfect control of the situation, never panicked, and got the job done. That’s why he’s the leader.
The Yankees once again got some great pitching in game three, receiving their third straight quality start.
Pettitte tossed 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out seven. The pitching in this series is great sign going into the ALCS against a tough Angels team; every pitcher who started for the Yankees gave them a good chance to win.
Not to mention the Yankee bullpen in the ALDS; basically everyone outside of Damaso Marte (and maybe Phil Hughes in game two) did their job. The Yankees’ bullpen is looking solid for the next round.
I also have to give a lot of credit to Ron Gardenhire, the Twins’ manager. After the game, Gardenhire noted the strength of the Yankees, his happiness for them, and how much he enjoys watching players like Jeter and Rodriguez play.
It was such a respectful gesture from the Twins’ skipper; he was a gracious loser and didn’t seem to hold contempt for anything that happened in the ALDS. I admire Gardenhire for that and have a newfound respect for him.
Gardenhire said, “I tip my cap to the Yankees.” Well, I tip my cap to you, Mr. Gardenhire. You are truly a classy manager.
Now we go on to face a very live Angels team, who just swept the Boston Red Sox. The series will begin Friday, Oct. 16 at Yankee Stadium. Get your popcorn ready, because there will be a show!
The Yankees and Angels are both on fire, so the ALCS is looking to be an interesting series. As I have been saying for weeks, I hope the Yanks can pull through!
As for the sweep…
The ALDS at a Glance
The Yankees outscored the Twins 15-6 in round one.
The Yankees hit six home runs in the ALDS; the Twins did not leave the park.
Alex Rodriguez batted .455 with two home runs and six RBIs in the ALDS.
Both of Rodriguez’s home runs tied the game in the seventh inning or later.
The Yankees beat the Twins 10 times (including the playoffs) this season without losing once. Six out of their 10 wins came at Yankee Stadium.
Johnny Damon went 1-for-12 at the plate with a walk in the ALDS. (I think he needs to work with Kevin Long in the batting cage before the ALCS begins. Just saying.)
Derek Jeter hit his 18th postseason home run in game one, which tied him with other Yankee legends Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for third place on the all-time postseason home runs list. (Mantle, Jackson and Jeter sit in third place behind Bernie Williams and Manny Ramirez, who are in second and first place, respectively)
Mark Teixeira’s game-winning home run in game two was the 11th postseason walk-off win for the Yankees. The Yanks have the most postseason walk-off wins in baseball history and it was the first extra-inning, game-winning home run since Aaron Boone’s solo blast to defeat the Red Sox in game seven of the 2003 ALCS.
Teixeira’s homer also left Yankee Stadium unbelievably quickly, in only 2.88 seconds to be exact. That was the shortest amount of time a ball took to leave the park at Yankee Stadium this year. A screaming line drive if you ask me!
The Yanks’ ALDS win was their 45th postseason series victory in their history.
Notching the save in game three, Yanks’ closer Mariano Rivera now has 35 postseason game saves. Guess who leads that category all-time? (If you guessed Rivera, you’re right! in second place is Dennis Eckersley with 15 postseason game saves)
The Twins left a total of 34 men on base in the ALDS.
Game three of the ALDS was the final baseball game that was played at the Twins’ venue, the Metrodome. The Twins are moving into a new Stadium, Target Field, in 2010.
The last time the Yankees swept the ALDS, they went on to sweep the World Series (which took place in 1999)
Anyway, that does it for this series. We need to brace ourselves for impact, because the Angels are a tough team. But I believe in the New York Yankees. They do not give up!
I’ll be back after game one of the ALCS for more highlights and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!