(Minnesota vs Yankees tropes checklist: 1) Minnesota scores first, check. 2) Yankees come back and score more, check. 3) Yankee bullpen is better than the Twins bullpen, check. 4) Umpires do something stupid, check.)
Since all the important tropes are checked and this is in every way the exact kind of Twins-Yankees game that gets played in the postseason, let’s talk about these things three: Andy Pettitte, Curtis Granderson, Lance Berkman.
Andy Pettitte: Seven innings, five hit, two run ball. Easily his best pitching performance since returning from the DL and a vintage Pettitte postseason start. Not perfect, but filled with double plays, gettings-of-clutch-outs, makings-of-pitches and nerves (and stares) of steel.
Okay, seriously: Pettitte looked fantastic. Any qualms about whether he or Hughes should have started game two seem to have been fully set aside, because now if Minnesota wins games three and four (possible, though, it would seem unlikely), the Yankees can rest assured that their vaunted postseason lefthander is healthy and ready to take the mound game five.
The Hudson home run was a bad pitch, but almost everything else worked flawlessly, especially after the second inning when he escaped a jam giving up just one run.
Curtis Granderson: Look, I know giving hitting coaches lifetime contracts is ill-advised, but in this case I’d be willing to make an exception.
Since his mid-August Long-ian retreat, Granderson has been on fire and shows no signs of abating now. He came up with one of, if not the biggest hits of the game last night, and tonight hit the double that eventually scored the Yankees’ first run.
The only blemish was a bunt that may not have needed to be made in tonight’s game, as he otherwise went three-for-four, and is now batting .500/.500/.875 in the postseason. Yeah, two games is a small sample size and ultimately insignificant, but he has been phenomenal in the first two games.
Lance Berkman: The Big Puma, in his first postseason game in pinstripes, hit a home run that gave the Yankees their first lead tonight and then the RBI double that gave them their second and final lead.
Want to know what’s crazy about how deep the Yankees’ line up is this postseason? Berkman, a formal All-Star, and the offensive hero of tonight’s game, was hitting eighth.
Oh, and while we’re on the theme of Cashman’s 2010 acquisitions striking gold tonight, how utterly dominant was Kerry Wood in the eighth inning?
Now the Yankees head back home, up two-games-to-none, and can potentially clinch a spot in the LCS on Saturday.
Only one team has ever come back from losing the first two LDS games at home to win the series. You may remember–it was the 2001 Yankees that did it.