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
The bad news: The wind is blowing so hard it was a heavy workout for me to walk from the subway to Gate 4, so expect it to wreak some havoc after first pitch.
The good news: It’s neither cold nor wet. The sun’s been out and it’ll be a crisp October night. Here are tonight’s lineups.
This morning, the Yankees released their ALDS roster, which includes Francisco Cervelli as a third catcher and Damaso Marte as a second left-handed reliever, but no Brian Bruney or Freddy Guzman. Joe Girardi met the media this afternoon and explained that having a third catcher provides the option to pinch-hit for Jose Molina or pinch-run for Jorge Posada in close-and-late situations. The exclusion of Guzman, however, leaves Brett Gardner as the primary pinch-runner. Another option is Cervelli, who runs pretty well for a backstop.
“As far as adding the lefty [Marte] with the lineup that Minnesota has, we thought it was beneficial to have a second left-hander,” Girardi said. “We went around and around about the guys we were going to carry and we felt that this was the best way to do our roster.”
? Last night in Minneapolis, the Twins outplayed and outlasted the Tigers in an epic 12-inning affair. It got to where Girardi and his staff got to thinking, “Do we start playing Detroit now?” Once the Twins provided the final answer, Girardi and Co. immediately broke down Ron Gardenhire’s roster and got home at rougly 11:45 p.m.
“When there was extra innings or late and we just waited until the game was over,” Girardi said. “But there were a lot of interesting moments when Magglio Ordoņez hit into the double play. You thought that this is the inning they’re going to score. And they didn’t score. Great game.”
“I was so proud of both teams last night for the way both teams never quit and kept getting after it,” Gardenhire said. “I told [Tigers manager] Jim Leyland after the game that was one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in. Just watching two teams butting heads and going after it and never giving up and all the ups and downs, it was just fantastic baseball.”
? The fact that the Yankees went 7-0 against the Twins during the regular season means absolutely nothing. On the ride to work I was reminded about the 1988 NLCS, where a Mets that went 10-1 against the Dodgers dropped the series in seven games The Twins also arrive to the Bronx winners of 17 out of 21.
“Minnesota is a hot team now,” Girardi said. “They played us very tough then and we expect the same thing now.”
? The Twins will throw Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.03) against A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04) in Game 2 Friday night. Game 3 will be either Carl Pavano (yes, him) or ace Scott Baker.
“I originally thought maybe Pavano for 3. But [piching coach Rick Anderson] wants to go TBA and we’ll see where we’re at,” Gardenhire said. “We have Baker and Pavano for Game 3, and see would feels the best.”
? Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera is enhancing his reputation as a money player. His hitting streak is 16 games after Tuesday’s two-run homer in the seventh inning that put the Twins ahead 4-3. During the streak Cabrera batting .392 (29-for-74) with 20 runs, two homers and 16 RBIs. Yankees fans will remember the summer of 2004 three-team trade that jettisoned Nomar Garciaparra out of Boston and imported O.C., who batted .294 with six home runs and 31 RBIs in 58 games and was a key contributor to the Red Sox winning the World Series.
“He’s been here,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been in the playoffs. He’s not afraid. We’ve got some young players that I want him to be able to help out too. And he’s done that. He’s been leading by example, actually, with his bat. He’s been swinging really good. Playing really good baseball. But he’s really positive influence on our baseball team. He’s been really, really good for our baseball team.”