In this 2009 American League Division Series, we saw two teams go head to head in the playoffs. They were both such contrasting teams– the Minnesota Twins, one of the more small-market franchises in the game today– facing the New York Yankees, who are quite possibly the most successful franchise in the history of American sports. The Minnesota Twins play a smallball, hit-and-run, sacrifice bunt and speed game– the New York Yankees play an all around power game to go with good defense. Some sports journalists called it the biggest mismatch in years, as the Yanks were favored almost nationwide.
The Yankees took the field with a solid combination of abundant talent, great chemistry, and a good amount of experience. The Twins took the field with youth, decent talent, momentum from a great month of September, and a whole lot of heart. The Yankees swept the regular season series 7-0 and took on Minnesota hoping to reach the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2004, where the Boston Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit and won 4 straight to break the hearts of the Bombers.
Here is a recap of the Twins-Yankees clash.
Game 1: I Don’t Fear Twinkies, I Eat Them
There was a buzz in the crowd on a Bronx night as for the first time, we got the oppurtunity to see how postseason baseball would look in the new Yankee Stadium. It turned out to not be a disappointing night for the fans cheering on the Yanks.
The matchup favored the Yankees quite overwhelmingly; the highest paid pitcher in the history of the MLB, 19 game winner and ace of the Yankees, CC Sabathia took the hill. Facing him would be a mere rookie southpaw for the Twins, Brian Duensing, who had some pretty good success down the stretch for Minnesota as they made their playoff push.
After two shutout innings on both sides of the ball, the Twins surprised the Yankees with a 2 run 3rd inning highlighted by a passed ball by catcher Jorge Posada. For a brief moment, Yankees fans across the world held their breath, as they were reminded of 2007 when Cleveland took an early lead in the ALDS and never looked back.
This was not to happen tonight.
In the bottom of that same 3rd inning, the captain and shortstop Derek Jeter, who had a stellar year as the leadoff hitter for the Yanks, launched a home run into the left field stands. From then on, the Twins never stood a chance.
Nick Swisher hit a run-scoring double to give the Yankees a lead in the next inning, and the Bombers continued to pile on, as they won by the final score of 7-2.
The real highlight of this ballgame, however, was Alex Rodriguez. Constantly criticized for his lack of offensive contributions during the playoffs, A-Rod drove in two runs and had two base hits. This set the tempo for the rest of the series.
Game 2: He Got Him, John, He Got Him
Following a day of rest, the Yankees and the Twins took the field for ALDS Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. You could, for some reason, feel that it was going to be an eventful baseball game. However, nobody could have predicted just how thrilling it would turn out to be.
Minnesota’s sinkerballing Nick Blackburn took the hill against hard throwing right hander A.J. Burnett. For the first 5 innings, both starters engaged in an awesome pitcher’s duel, as neither team was able to get on the board. In one inning, the Twins nearly scored on an RBI single; however, Carlos Gomez slipped rounding 2nd, and was tagged out retreating to 2nd base before Delmon Young could score. It remained scoreless. The Twins scored in the top of the 6th, but the Yankees tied it up in the bottom half of that 6th inning.
After a scoreless 7th, Minnesota shocked lights out setup reliever Phil Hughes, scoring two runs off him (the latter coming off a single on the great Mariano Rivera). That gave them a 3-1 lead over the Yankees, and it seemed like the little team from Minneapolis, Minnesota would pull off a shocking late inning upset. That would be disastrous for the Yankees. It would tie up the series, as opposed to the large advantage of being up 2-0. It would send the Twins back to Minnesota, where they play so much better, with a highly motivating victory. In short, it would be an enormous momentum change for the Twins.
But that wasn’t how the Yankees rolled.
After a shutout inning by Rivera in the top of the 9th, the Bombers headed into the bottom of the 9th inning needing to score two runs to tie the game. Their problem? They had to face the tremendous closer of the Twins, Joe Nathan. However, the Yankees had the most comebacks in the league in ’09, and with their 3, 4 and 5 hitters due up against him, there was certainly a good amount of confidence in that Yankees dugout.
The MVP candidate, switch hitting slugger and first baseman Mark Teixeira stepped up to lead off. He delivered with a hard hit single to right field, and up came A-Rod.
Alex Rodriguez wasn’t supposed to be clutch.
Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be this headcase who couldn’t deliver in the playoffs.
Alex Rodriguez wasn’t supposed to deliver hits when the New York Yankees needed him to.
He certainly did on October 9th of 2009.
After taking 3 straight pitches out of the strike zone, Joe Nathan tossed a sinker down and in to Alex Rodriguez that possibly was out of the strike zone, but there was no argument from Rodriguez.
Joe Nathan’s 3-1 pitch was in a location everybody knows you can’t throw it in with Alex Rodriguez at the plate. A-Rod showed Nathan why.
With one elegant, swift swing of A-Rod’s shining black bat, that baseball was launched about as far as you’ll see. It soared in the night sky and landed into the Yankees’ bullpen.
“He got him, John, he got him!” shouted a grieving Dan Gladden, analyst for the Twins radio.
A-Rod knew it. He turned to the dugout and gave a little fist pump as he flipped his bat. All of a sudden, this game was no longer a dramatic upset. All of a sudden, this game was tied by the score of 3-3.
Yet, even though the game seemed so destined to end in a Yankees victory, the Twins were not going to let go. They got out of that inning, and in the bottom of the 10th inning, Johnny Damon stepped to the plate with 1 out and runners on the corners. With the count full at 3-2, Damon lined out to shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who alertly fired to third base, where rookie Brett Gardner was leaning much too far off and was doubled off. It was a traumatizing play for the Yankees, and an inspiring play for the Twins. In the top of the 11th inning, with Damaso Marte, the hard throwing Dominican left hander on the mound, Joe Mauer lined a ball into the left field corner that the umpire called foul.
But was it foul?
Clearly, as all the camera angles TBS provided show, it was a fair ball and a double for the AL batting champion Joe Mauer. It seemed miniscule after Mauer lined a ball into center field for a single; but it would turn out to be a gigantic break for the Yankees. The next runner reached base. Marte was out. Mauer had held up at third on a single off of new Yankees reliever, the strikeout specialist David Robertson. With the bases full of Twins and no outs, it would be a perfect situation for Robertson to get a strikeout. He didn’t get a strikeout; regardless, Robertson’s performance will make him forever appreciated by the Yankees fans.
Delmon Young lined a curveball to Mark Teixeira’s glove at first base. One out.
Carlos Gomez hit a fairly soft ground ball to Teixeira, who fired to Francisco Cervelli at home plate. Two outs.
Brendan Harris swung at a 92-mph fastball and flew out to Gardner in center field. Three outs.
They didn’t score a run with the bases loaded.
You can’t do that. Not against the Yankees.
Mark Teixeira, now swinging the bat right handed, crushed a line drive into the left field corner on a 2-1 count. It had a chance to go out. Would it? Would it?
It hit off the seats in the first row and caromed deeper into the stands. A wall clearing home run ended the extra inning affair, giving the Yanks a 4-3 win over the Twins and a 2-0 series advantage.
You’re on the Mark, Teixeira.
Game 3: Jumped
Needing only one game to make it to the American League Championship Series for the first time since ’04, the New York Yankees put on their road uniforms and took on the Twins at the Metrodome. It was the Metrodome’s last year hosting Major League Baseball games, and the Minnesota Twins did not want it’s history and nostalgia to end in an ALDS loss to the big, fancy Yankees. Win one for the Dome, that’s all that Twins fans were asking. Minnesota would send Carl Pavano to the mound.
Carl Pavano was signed to a big money deal by the Yankees a few years back, but he was plagued by so many injuries that he could never pitch all that much. He had less starts in 3 seasons in Pinstripes than a decent starter has in a year. Moreover, none of those games he pitched really got the job done. It was one big waste of money by the Bombers organization, and thus, a great amount of Yankees fans hate him with a passion not matched even when we saw George W. Bush get a couple zapatos in his direction.
Thus, he took the mound against the Yankees in Game 3 with a lot to prove. And he did his job and then some.
He didn’t allow any runs in the first six innings of the ballgame, putting together sharp movement, great command and a couple of questionable calls by the home plate umpire. However, Andy Pettitte was not to be shown up. He hurled 5 shutout innings until the 6th, when the aforementioned AL batting champion(for the 3rd time, nonetheless) Joe Mauer did what batting champions do, which is hit. He wrapped a single to the opposite field that plated speedy Denard Span. It was 1-0 Twins! Finally, the Minnesota Twins came up with run support off Andy Pettitte to support Carl Pavano’s stellar outing.
Now all he had to do was hold that lead. But of course he was going to hold that lead. He had been pitching so perfectly, so masterfully against this terrifyingly good Yankees lineup. All the stars had alligned for Pavano tonight.
You can see where this is going, right?
Of course, the ever-so-powerful Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate with one out. He had just hit a long, dramatic, game-tying big fly last game! And he did it again. With a 3-2 count against Pavano, he took a tailing fastball away on the ride of it’s lifetime, sending it way up over the baggie to tie it at 1.
The Yanks were not done yet, as you can imagine. Later in that inning, veteran catcher Jorge Posada– often criticized(by me) for his lacking defense– bombs one into left. It’s baffling. They hadn’t scored all night, they looked flat. And then they decide, in the 7th inning, after the Twins score a dramatic run, they just say “*yawn* mmkay, home run. Another home run. When is this game gonna end? I’m hungry.”
In the 8th inning, the Yankees had a 2-1 edge over the Twins, but it was certainly surmountable for a never-say-die Twins team. After all, they still had talent, they could still execute what they needed to execute, and they had the tremendous lift of being at home, where they play so much better. And they started to rally in that 8th inning. But on a chopper up the middle hit by Denard Span that turned out to be an infield single, something strange happened to the Twins that sucked the life out of them. Nick Punto thought that the ball had gotten into center field and was surging home to try and score. But Jeter had fielded the ball. Nick Punto didn’t see that, nor did he pick up his third base coach pleading him to stay put at third base. Jeter fired home. Punto, halfway to home plate, was hung up and scurried back to third. Posada gunned the ball to A-Rod at third base, who applied the tag, and Punto was dead meat.
The play that ended the Metrodome. Not technically, but momentum wise. The rally was their last chance at a late inning upset and comeback over the Yankees. But with one clumsy baserunning mistake, that rally was over. They would now have to deal with Rivera in the ninth.
The Yanks would tack on some insurance, and then, in the bottom of the 9th, Mo Rivera would close out another game, sending the New York Yankees to the postseason for the first time since 2004 against the Red Sox.
This series might have been boring, pointless and disappointing for baseball fans who enjoy seeing the little guy pull through and win. For guys who like the David beats Goliath philosophy, this might have been saddening. I understand why you would like that kind of thing; God bless and go forward.
But if you’re a Yankee fan, that was sweeter than apple pie.
See you in the ALCS.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
As Bob Dylan so eloquently put it in Like A Rolling Stone:
“How does it feel?”
It was a terrific game, wasn’t it?
Cano came through with the bases fulla Yankees and broke out of his RISP slump, CC Sabathia dominated the Twins, and everything else was perfect, too. I have no regrets about this 10-2 ballgame.
Tonight’s ballgame looks like it’ll be equally fun, considering we’re facing Glen Perkins, a soft tossing lefty who has always struggled against the Bombers, and we’ve got the red hot AJ Burnett on the mound. In his last outing, he won against the Blue Jays, going 7 innings and K’ing 7 while only giving up two runs.
In the previous outing, he destroyed the Mets, allowing only 1 hit on no runs and striking out 10 hitters in seven innings of work. Needless to say, he got the victory in that ballgame, too.
So look for a win in that game, and hopefully Boston will be able to lose a game. That way, we will be in a tie for first place with the Sox, which would be pure awesomeness in a bucket.
By the way, before I go, allow me to discuss the decision by the Yankees to make Alfredo Aceves the starting pitcher who will replace Chien-Ming Wang while he’s trying to recover from his most recent disabled list stint.
There are two sides to this decision. First off, you could be against it because Alfredo Aceves has been so unbelievably great out of the ‘pen, and you don’t want to take a good, effective arm out of the bullpen, and I think I’m on that side. You know, we have such good chemistry and effectiveness in that bullpen that it’s a little dangerous to mess with it. Plus, we have starting pitchers in the minor leagues: Sergio Mitre, George Kontos(although he’s on the 7 day DL), Ivan Nova… On the other hand, people in favor of this say that Aceves was great in his starts last year and that this way, we could bring Albaladejo back into the bullpen and have Aceves, who was a longman in the pen anyway, start games. I hear that. I’m not saying this isn’t going to work, and I’m not saying that I mind the Yankees making this move, I just would prefer the former argument.
Song of the Day is Away by Breaking Benjamin.
That’s it for today.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ, the Kid From New York
Thank you, New York Yankees, for giving me a really nice win to talk about. Finally, the Yankees scored a bunch of runs again, as their offense was looking really flat of late. After the controversial(and completely blown) call that Brett Gardner was picked off from first base, Joe Girardi stormed out there and argued and argued that call. He was sooo trying to get ejected, I have no doubts about that. The umpire wasn’t even really arguing with him, and plus, once he got tossed, he just walked away instead of continuing to argue. But hey, he got the job done, because the next batter is my new man crush, Frankie Cervelli.
And all he does is hit his first MLB homer to left center to tie it at 1. We just took off from there.
Later, Alex Rodriguez hits a sharp two run single to center field, and I’m shouting “I don’t believe what I just saw!” (In a year so improbable… the impossible has happened!)
I mean, honestly, yesterday was one of the best things that ever happened to Alex. He hit a few balls well, caught a popup, and hopefully that game will begin his massive tear of Major League Baseball pitching this season. I doubt that’s actually true, but a boy can dream, can’t he?
But easily– easily– the best moment of the game was Mariano Rivera’s at bat. From the minutes leading up to it, when Melky Cabrera was giving him batting gloves, a helmet, and a good talk. Then, when he was on the on-deck circle, just chillin’, leaning against the backstop like nothing was gonna happen. It all ended sooo climactically, with this:
A line drive to center field. Sadly, Nate McClouth was right friggin’ there, but it was actually a very good swing and a very well-hit ball. If only he had just pulled it more, it would be the best moment of the year. But alas, it’ll have to settle for the top 10.
Actually, that’s a pretty good idea. What have been the top 10 moments of the 2009 Yankees season? Trust me, I came up with this just spontaneously. This was not planned. Dead serious.
I believe this was our first walk-off of the year. We came back against the Angels, who always kill us, and win it on a walk-off single by the then-not-useless Jorge Posada.
Into Monument Park. This’ll be a trivia question for the ages.
A hilariously beautiful moment. If only it were a hit.
Facing Joe Nathan down by two runs in the ninth inning, Melky Cabrera hits an improbable two run single to left center.
Swishalicious brings a lot of humor and fun to the game, and this is a great example. His first MLB outing ensued hilarity at the end of a ballgame that is otherwise terrible and disgusting.
A-Rod comes back in the most storybook way possible. Yet, we all most definitely saw it coming.
First it was Melky Cabrera’s two run single. Then it was Alex Rodriguez’s walk-off, two run bomb. Finally, Damon capped off the clutch streak with a walk-off shot in extras.
Down by two runs in the inning, A-Rod tied it with a homer into right field off Brad Lidge, and again off Lidge, Melky Cabrera drives in fellow Dominican and buddy Robinson Cano for his third walk-off of the year. If that’s not enough, it was on FOX.
Before the game, Brett Gardner made a bold promise to an 18-year old fan who was in the hospital. After hitting a blooper than got by Denard Span in left, Brett Gardner went balls-to-the-wall on the basepaths and came all the way home, for an inside-the-park homer, the second of Gardy’s career and probably the wake-up call for the Yankees to comeback in that game against Minnesota.
Against a team who’s fans, every year, think their team will be so much better than the Yankees even though they were severely disappointed the year before, the Yanks once again prove that, no matter what we do, whether we fail embarrassingly or succeed tremendously, you guys will always, always, always find some way to embarrass yourselves worse. Enjoy that.
So, thanks for reading, I think this blog is a lot better than my other blogs have been recently. Be sure to leave comments.
Almost forgot — Song of the Day is I’m Not Jesus – Apocalyptica ft. Corey Taylor.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
“EJ – jealousy doesn’t suit you! lol! As shocking as it might be to you – the Red Sox actually have had – and continue to have – great players worthy of the awards they receive.”
Of course you say that, you’re a Red Sox fan. 😛
Joe Mauer is a catcher, Dustin Pedroia is a second baseman, therefore it is more valuable to have such offense from Joe Mauer rather than Pedroia. Also, you consider that Mauer had 2 more RBI and he had almost 100 less plate appearances and played for the weak hitting Twins, rather than the juggernaut offense of the Red Sox, and you get a pretty lopsided comparison.
Maybe I’m not jealous or biased, Julia. Maybe I just checked my facts before I ran my mouth.
OHHHH SNAP WHATCHU GON DO NOW JULIA!? XD
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
Baseball is such a fun and joyous sport. It’s rich history and all the great moments created by it can help a fan escape from the troubles of everyday life. The game seems so wonderful and innocent. However, this innocence can sometimes be perverted. Baseball players almost seem immortal throughout their entire careers; nobody ever sees them dying. Nobody ever can predict when somebody will go. And sometimes, a player will retire prior to retiring, completely unexpectedly and tragically. These are the stories of those players.
Not enough baseball fans know the tale of Lyman Bostock, and it definitely should be shared more often. Lyman Wesley Bostock, Jr. was born on November 22nd, 1950. A left handed hitting outfielder from Birmingham, Alabama, Bostock was a very talented player, who had good speed, was a solid defensive outfielder, and could swing the bat as good as the rest of ’em. In his first full season, in 1976, a 25-year old Bostock hit .323 for the Minnesota Twins in 474 at bats, as well as hitting for the cycle on July 24, 1976. His batting average that year was fourth in the league. In 1977, Lyman topped that by hitting .336 for the Twins, with a 144 OPS+, had 90 RBI, 14 homers, and only struck out 59 times in 593 at bats. Bostock had the 2nd best average in the league, behind only Rod Carew. He finished 27th in the Most Valuable Player voting.
Bostock signed with the California Angels in 78, and that year, after struggling with the bat early in the season, ended up leading the Angels in batting average with a .296 clip, and although it was his least impressive full season, he still finished 23rd in the MVP voting.
In 1978, Bostock would not be alive to put up any numbers.
On September 23rd, 1978, in Gary, Indiana, Bostock fell victim to a bullet that wasn’t supposed to hit him. Let Wikipedia tell you the story.
“With a week remaining in the season, he went 2 for 4 with a walk in a Saturday afternoon game against the White Sox in Chicago, to raise his average to .296. Following the game, as he regularly did when in Chicago, Bostock visited his uncle, Thomas Turner, in nearby Gary, Indiana. After eating a meal with a group of relatives at Turner’s home, Bostock and his uncle went to visit Joan Hawkins, a woman whom Bostock had tutored as a teenager, but had not seen for several years. After the visit, Turner agreed to give Hawkins and her sister, Barbara Smith, a ride to their cousin’s house. Smith had been living with Hawkins while estranged from her husband, Leonard Smith. Unbeknownst to the group, Leonard Smith was outside Hawkins’s home in his car and observed the group’s departure in Turner’s car.
As Turner’s vehicle was stopped at a traffic signal at the intersection of 5th and Jackson streets, Smith’s car pulled up alongside them. Smith leaned out of his vehicle and fired one blast of a .410 caliber shotgun into the back seat of Turner’s car, where his wife and Bostock were seated. Smith did not know Bostock, but Smith later claimed that his wife was frequently unfaithful to him, and that based upon his observance of Bostock getting into the car with Barbara Smith, he concluded that the two were having an affair. In fact, Bostock had only met the woman twenty minutes previously, when he and his uncle arrived at Hawkins’s home.
Leonard Smith said that his lethal wrath was intended for his estranged wife. However, Bostock was seated between Barbara Smith and the position from which Leonard Smith was firing. The blast missed the woman and instead struck Bostock in the right temple. He died two hours later at a Gary hospital.”
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
Aaaand baseball is back, but you already know that. I’m hosting the Twins-Yankees game today, hopefully you also know that. Here you guys can discuss the game, as I set it up for you in a nice, clean, organized manner.
Joba Chamberlain no. 62 no. 47 Francisco Liriano
4-3, 171 ERA+, 100.1 innings, 118 K’s 6-4, 104 ERA+, 76 innings, 67 K’s
Okay, well. This pitching matchup is certainly very interesting, even though it’s spring training. Both guys are former top prospects with ace stuff, and they both have dominated the big leagues at young ages (Chamberlain is 23, Liriano is 25). It’ll be interesting to see how they match each other in the early innings. Look out for updates from now until the game begins. While you’re doing that, kick back, relax, have whatever drinks you want to drink, and enjoy the flat screen TV.
1. Denard Span
2. Nick Punto
3. Delmon Young
4. Jason Kubel
5. Brian Buscher
6. Luke Hughes
7. Matt Tolbert
8. Drew Butera
9. Carlos Gomez
1:18 – Alex Rodriguez throws out Span on a chopper to third for the first out of the ballgame.
1:21 – Delmon Young hits an RBI double to drive in Nick Punto, and it’s 1-0 Minnesota. Right off the base of the wall in deep center.
1:22 – Jason Kubel smashes a ground rule double to drive in Young from first. 2-0 Twins.
1:25 – Derek Jeter throws out Luke Hughes, Yankees coming to bat, 2-0 Twins.
1. Johnny Damon
2. Derek Jeter
3. Mark Teixeira
4. Alex Rodriguez
5. Nick Swisher
6. Robinson Cano
7. Jose Molina
8. Shelley Duncan
9. Melky Cabrera
1:29 – Derek Jeter hits a single past Punto with one out.
1:31 – Mark Teixeira hits a double, runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out now.
1:32 – Alex Rodriguez hits a sac fly, Tex moves to third, 2-1 Twins now.
1:33 – Nick Swisher sharply grounds to third, but a throwing error by Hughes ties it up. 2-2.
1:36 – Cano walks, a rare feat for Robby, 1st and 2nd, 2 outs.
1:40 – Dan Giese gets an out in the 2nd on the first pitch he threw.
1:43 – Carlos Gomez flies one over the wall in left field, Damon’s attempt to corral it is thwarted. 3-2 Twins on the CarGo homer.
1:49 – A line drive single by Shelley and a bunt single by Melky gives the Yanks runners at first and second with no one out.
1:51 – After Damon moves over the runners, Jeter gets a sac fly to tie up the ball game, 3-3.
2:01 – Brian Buscher pounds a double to right center to drive in two, 5-3 Twins.
2:05 – Twins have brought the bats today. 6-3 on that RBI single for Luke Hughes.
2:27 – Jose Veras has an impressive 4th inning, with 2 strikeouts. He has phenomenal stuff, he really does. I love this guy.
ZOMG! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU!!!
I have missed a ton since my last blog, I’m aware of that. I’ve just been very busy with a lot of stuffs. I’m’still here, I assure you, so do not worry!
There have been signings; Ken Griffey Jr is back with the M’s, Joe Crede is now with his former cross town rivals, etc. But that’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is simply the fact that baseball has returned to me! It’s returned! It was gone for so long, but now it has come back to me! Can you believe it?
Yankees are 2-0 in the spring, we’ve hit 4 home runs in 2 games, and it’s really looking nice thus far. I only got to watch the last two half innings of the Yankees-Rays game, but it’s just great that they’re going to show it later. I’m so excited, I really am. This is fantastic.
I’m also very hungry. I should probably do something about that…
Anyways, that’s about it. I’m also announcing that I am hosting the spring training Yankees-Twins game on Saturday that YES will be broadcasting, I believe. So be sure to stop by and check that out.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York