By Jon Lane
Key points from Joe Girardi’s pregame press conference:
On the debate of whether Hideki Matsui or Jorge Posada would DH:
“Matsui has been our DH most of the year and is familiar with that role. That is not a role that Jorge has done a lot in his career. If there’s a left-hander on the mound maybe you think a little bit different. But Matsui, I mean, he’s been great against left-handers, so it wasn’t much of a decision because of what Matsui has done in the DH role.”
On the temperature of the clubhouse given the talk about Posada’s reaction to sitting:
“Clubhouse is great. I watched the guys go through practice yesterday. They were loose; guys were having fun. They enjoyed being around each other like they always do, so I think our clubhouse is great.”
On why he believes A.J. Burnett will be successful:
“I’ve always found that A.J. has liked the big stage. I talked about his success that he’s had coming into here as an opposing player, the success before this year he had going into Boston, some of the games. We were 0-2 to start the year and he got our first win in Baltimore. I think A.J. likes it and I think A.J. likes pitching in this ballpark. That leads me to believe that he’s going to have a good game.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire also discussed Carl Pavano starting Game 3, a potential elimination game:
“He’s been great for us, a veteran pitcher. The leadership you get from a guy who’s been there and done it has been very, very important. And then watching him go out on the mound, when he’s throwing the ball, how he works hitters and works the zone when he’s got his good stuff. He’s in and out and using all his pitches and can pitch backwards if he has to. That’s something that some of our younger pitchers need to learn to do, so he’s been very important for us.
By Jon Lane
Ron Gardenhire officially named Carl Pavano (yes, him) his Game 3 starter. Apparently old Pav emerged from that pregame embrace unscathed.
Give Pavano this: He stayed healthy and pitched well at times, and shared a good line with reporters Wednesday night about being heavily booed during pregame introductions.
“Hey, I don’t blame them,” Pavano said. “I’d boo me too after the four years I spent here.”
The normally genial and eloquent Gardenhire was vague as to why Pavano was selected over Scott Baker and his team-leading 15 wins to start the potential elimination game for the Twins, placing the onus of the decision on pitching coach Rick Anderson.
“Pavano will be pitching,” Gardenhire said. “They made sure to tell me that just announce Pavano. [Anderson] doesn’t want to answer any more questions about it. Pavano will be pitching Game 3, Baker four.”
Baker started Tuesday’s epic one-game playoff against the Tigers, pitching six innings, and would have taken his turn on a regular four days of rest, whereas Pavano last pitched on October 4. Gardenhire cut off a question about the thought process behind the choice of the enigmatic and embattled Pavano over his staff ace.
“Because my pitching coach said Pavano,” Gardenhire said. “That’s the thought process. That’s as far as we have to go.”
No need to rehash Pavano’s wonderful four-season tenure in New York, where he was paid $39.5 million for making a grand total of 26 starts. Conversely, the right-hander started 33 games for the Twins and Indians while pitching to a 2.70 ERA in two starts against the Yankees. And while Baker has never started a playoff game, Pavano posted a 1.00 ERA for the Marlins in the 2003 World Series, including the eight innings of one-run ball in Game 4 against New York that made him the most sought-after free agent pitcher on the market that winter.
Little did the Yankees know what they’d receive on their return investment. The Twins, however, acquired Pavano in an August trade with the Indians for a player to be named later and were rewarded with a 5-4 record and a 4.64 ERA in 12 starts.
When Nick Blackburn takes the ball in Game 2 Friday night, he’ll have a stronger support system. Closer Joe Nathan will be available along with set-up man Jesse Crain, who was held out of Game 1 with a sore groin.
“This time of year everybody says they’re ready to pitch,” Gardenhire said. “Nathan needed it for sure. That was a bad thing we didn’t get to use him, but also a good thing. I think they’ll all be ready for tomorrow night.”
What does a manager do when his team is 0-8 against another while being outscored 48-27? Change your luck? Change hotels? No. But when you’re down 0-1 in a Division Series, there’s absolutely no room for error.
“You can’t make any mistakes,” Gardenhire said. “You can’t walk people. There have been a lot of late game losses for us just because they’re such professional hitters. If you make one mistake, they get you. I wish I had all the answers to say wow, this is why we lose here; this is why we don’t win. It’s not that simple. We have had our opportunities. We just haven’t come up with big hits.”
If you ask Denard Span, luck does play a role, and the Twins have had none in the Yankees’ plush new home.
“I think we had bad luck,” Span said. “We got walked off three times earlier in the year here. Three games that we if we get a big hit we would have won. I think every team has a team that they maybe don’t have good luck at certain places against and unfortunately, we just haven’t had good luck here. But I don’t think anybody in the clubhouse believes that there’s a hex or anything going on. We still believe we can win, beat the Yankees.”
By Jon Lane
I was watching Giants vs. Indians playing on MLB.tv when Tribe commentators Matt Underwood and Rick Manning plugged a live interview with Carl Pavano by saying how he’s fit in as one of the new guys. Manning’s expectation was the the right-hander would “hopefully hold some games for them this year.”
Wearing a slight goatee, Pavano called life in Arizona a nice change of scenery before Underwood brought up an article entitled “Escape from New York.” When asked if it feels like a new beginning, Pavano said every year is a fresh start and that he’s thankful for the opportunity the Indians have given him to fill a need in the back end of their rotation. Regarding if it’s been a seamless transition in the clubhouse — of course you remember Pavano’s wonderful people skills during his tenure in the Bronx — he talked about how “it fell into place,” citing he knew some guys from playing with them in the Minor Leagues.
The interview lasted about two minutes thanks to a quick 1-2-3 inning.
Figure on Pavano pulling a muscle just as quickly during one of his spring starts. It’ll be first reported as a day-to-day injury before the Indians announce their prized acquisition will be transferred to the 60-day DL. In a nutshell, that was Pavano in New York.