By Jon Lane
First pitch: 6:07 p.m.
Pitching matchup: A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04) vs. Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.03)
Still a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening, but
there’s plenty of blue sky and a perfectly cool and crisp late
Throwing out the first pitch:
Reggie Jackson. About an hour ago Chris Shearn conducted an exclusive
interview with “Mr. October” for a Stadium Spotlight to be posted
later. Also on tap are chats with David Robertson, Chad Gaudin and
Francisco Cervelli, and Shearn’s pregame Off the Wall Vlog.
of Cervelli, he was taking ground balls at third base during batting
practice, telling my colleague Joe Auriemma it’s to “keep my hand
active.” He’s the third catcher on the Yankees’ DS roster for a reason.
You never know.
A bit of news: Dr. Marc Philippon, who
performed the hip surgery on Alex Rodriguez, told reporters he doesn’t
expect A-Rod to need another surgery this offseason.
Other pregame chatter: Joe Girardi discussed
the DH debate, the mood of the clubhouse in light of “Molina-gate” and
A.J. Burnett’s chances tonight. Ron Gardenhire also explained why Carl
Pavano has been great for the Twins. Yes, that Carl Pavano.
Tonight’s Lineups: Molina batting ninth
Back with much, much more later
6 p.m. Reggie, looking dapper wearing a fedora hat, jacket and tie, bounced a pitch to Jorge Posada. See, he got to catch?
6:14 p.m. Burnett
needs just 14 pitches to work through the first inning, ending with a
punch out of Jason Kubel after issuing a two-out walk to Joe Mauer. A
microcosm of good and bad A.J. – he retired the first two batters on
five pitches and needed nine to get through Mauer and Kubel.
That’s two scoreless innings in the books for Burnett-Molina. With a
runner at second and two out, Molina draped his left arm around Burnett
to provide instructions. The next pitch Matt Tolbert grounded out to
second. There is something about Molina’s ability to reach Burnett,
knowing exactly what to say and how to say it. We’ll see if this keeps
6:53 p.m. Burnett catches Mauer looking with a runner
on first to end the third, a nasty breaking ball that’s his best of the
game to this point. That was a .365 hitter he sent to the bench shaking
The Burnett-Molina connection breeds great karma. 7:10 p.m. Matt
Tolbert’s single was to give the Twins a 1-0 lead … or so it seemed.
Nick Swisher caught Carlos Gomez rounding too far off second base and
he fired a strike to Derek Jeter, who tagged Gomez out right before
Delmon Young touched home plate. That’s the biggest play of the game,
but the Yankees have to get something started offensively. Nick
Blackburn has held them hitless through four innings, allowing only a
7:32 p.m. Burnett after five innings: no runs, two
hits, four walks, two hit batsman, five strikeouts – in other words
he’s been A.J. Burnett. He’s thrown 73 pitches – 25 in the fifth – but
is backed up by a deep and rested bullpen. Provided the Yankees solve
Blackburn, you’ll see Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera.
Theme of the game so far: Burnett/Molina’s and the Yankees’ ability to do damage control.
7:40 p.m. Robinson Cano ends Blackburn’s no-hitter at 4 2/3 IP with a single to center.
Brendan Harris, of all people, triples to left to put the Twins on the
board, though a better left fielder makes the play. Burnett’s thrown 96
pitches after six, and David Robertson and Damaso Marte were warming
up. I’d be very surprised if he comes out for the seventh.
Posada pinch-hitting and gets a loud ovation. Burnett’s night is done.
He gave it a ride to deep left center before Gomez caught it on the
8 p.m. Meanwhile, it’ll be Joba Time in the seventh.
8:06 p.m. Huge spot for Mark Teixeira here. He’s 0-for-6 in the Division Series.
Make that 0-for-7. Teixeira teases a grand slam and pops a 3-2 pitch to
left for the second out. What do you know? Huge spot for A-Rod here.
Mr. October Version 2009 delivers: RBI single to left scores Jeter,
ties the game at one and chases Blackburn. A-Rod is 3-for-7 with three
RBIs in the ALDS.
8:21 p.m. Twins 3B Matt Tolbert with a strained left oblique, day-to-day.
Here’s why Phil Coke was brought in with two out in the seventh:
Lefties hit .195 against him and Jason Kubel was 0-for-4 with two
strikeouts. Make that 0-5, 3 Ks.
8:47 p.m. A Tweet from
WFAN’s Sweeny Murti: “I think this is setting up beautifully for a
Posada walkoff Bot 10, and AJ giving him a pie!”
Brendan Harris, yes Brendan Harris, is 2-for-2 with an RBI as an injury
replacement. His hit-and-run single has runners on the corners with two
out and Hughes in trouble.
8:57 p.m. Ridiculous. The Twins grab the lead on a walk and two singles by their 7-8-9 hitters all with two out.
9:02 p.m. There’s hope Yankees fans: 15 walk-off wins and 28 in their last at-bat, including those three games in May.
9:09 p.m. Great play by Harris. He’s supposed to beat you with his glove, not his bat.
9:28 p.m. Teixeira ends an 0-for-7 slump by leading off the ninth with a single. A-Rod at the plate. Very interesting ….
9:32 p.m. A picture and decibel levels are worth thousands of words. TBS cameras had a shot of Ron Gardenhire with a look that read, “You have got to be kidding me.” That run off Rivera in the eighth looms large, but the Yankees have new life.
9:49 p.m. Runners on the corners in the 10th. This is what happens when you walk the No. 9 hitter with two out.
9:52 p.m. Alfredo Aceves dodges a bullet. Mauer leads off the 11th if it gets that far.
10:03 p.m. Nathan throwing error, Brett Gardner hesitates, then takes off, still beats the throw to third. Unbelievable. Now they’re putting Jeter on to set up the double play. Gardy’s also pulling Nathan for the left-hander, Jose Mijares.
10:09 p.m. Buzzkill.
10:19 p.m. Twins in business because Damaso Marte stinks, but it could have been worse. Left field umpire Phil Cuzzi completely blew a call that would have given Mauer a leadoff double.
10:22 p.m. Bases loaded and nobody out, but Twins would have had the lead if not for Cuzzi.
10:26 p.m. After Delmon Young lined out to first, Gomez grounded to Teixeira, who threw to home for the force, and Harris flied out to center. Awesome performance by David Robertson, though he has Cuzzi to thank.
10:30 p.m. Teixeira walk-off HR ends an epic. He’ll get his first taste of pie. Back later with so much more.
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.”