Results tagged ‘ Nick Blackburn ’

Morneau Hits 2 Homers As Twins Edge Yankees

GAME 12

TWINS 6, YANKEES 5

Justin Morneau hit a pair of solo home runs – his second and third of the series – and Minnesota pounded Hiroki Kuroda for six earned runs to hold off New York on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

Jason Marquis (1-0), making his first American League start, gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks and struck out three in five innings but still was able to hold on to win. Matt Capps surrendered Derek Jeter’s fourth home run of the season in the ninth but got credit for his third save.

Kuroda (1-2), coming off eight innings of shutout baseball against the Angels on Friday, gave up 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. He was tagged for four runs in the first inning and the Yankee offense was never able to overtake the Twins the rest of the way.

The loss evens the Yankees’ season record to 6-6. The Twins, who won only two games coming into the four-game series, have now won two games in the Bronx and are 4-8.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Jeter was 3-for-5 in the game and he hit the ball hard in the two at-bats he was retired. He is hitting .389 with four home runs and 10 RBIs on the season. OK, Yankee fans who were calling for Eduardo Nunez to replace Jeter at shortstop, what do you have to say now? Hmm, those fans are suddenly silent.
  • Robinson Cano was 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season and drove in two runs, showing signs he is coming around with the bat after a brief cold spell. Cano’s two RBIs from the cleanup spot were the first two RBIs from a No. 4 hitter for the Yankees this season. The Yankees were the only team in baseball without an RBI from their cleanup hitter.
  • Nick Swisher smacked a two-run single in the first inning to give him 13 RBIs on the season, which leads the American League. Swisher is in the final year of his contract with the Yankees and he is trying to make a push to remain with the Yankees for the rest of his career.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • After shutting down the Albert Pujols and the Angels on five hits in eight innings, Kuroda reverted back to the form in which he gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Rays on April 7. By the time Kuroda gave up a two-run home run to Morneau, the fifth hitter in the lineup, he already had the Yankees down 4-0 before they got to bat. Very simply this inconsistent starting pitching is going to have to stop to give the Yankees any chance to win games.
  • The offense does bear some of the blame also. They were able to score three runs on Marquis in the first inning and then they went to sleep. Cano’s solo home run in the third and Jeter’s solo shot in the ninth was the extent of the offense after that. A pattern is developing where they score some runs early and, after the pitcher makes adjustments, they can’t kick-start the offense back up again.
  • The at-bat that turned the game happened in the bottom of the first. The Yankees had scored three runs and Marquis was on the ropes with the bases loaded and one out with Eric Chavez at the plate. Chavez hit the ball hard – real hard. Unfortunately for the Yankees and him, the one-hop smash was right at second baseman Alexi Casilla and it was turned into a double play. The Yankees have been plagued by their share of “at ‘em balls.”

BOMBER BANTER

In the “How worse can things get department?” the Yankees were forced into placing left-fielder Brett Gardner on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right elbow and a muscle strain. Gardner was injured making a diving catch in Tuesday’s game against the Twins. Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees will use a combination of Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones and Nunez in left to replace Gardner. The team is expected to fill Gardner’s roster spot with right-handed relief pitcher Cody Eppley, who was claimed off waivers from the Rangers on April 5 and has pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre this season.

ON DECK

The Yankees need a victory on Thursday to prevent the Twins from winning the four-game series.

To do that the Yankees will need a good start from right-hander Phil Hughes (0-2, 9.00 ERA). Hughes gave up six runs in just 3 1/3 innings in his last start on Saturday against the Angels. Hughes is fighting to remain in the rotation in the wake of the return of Andy Pettitte. He is 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA against the Twins in his career.

The Twins are countering with right-hander Anthony Swarzak (0-2, 3.75 ERA). Swarzak is replacing Nick Blackburn, who came up with a stiff right shoulder, in his first start at Yankee Stadium. He is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Nova Extinguishes Flames To Shut Out Twins

GAME 125

YANKEES 3, TWINS 0

For five innings the Twins and Yankees seemed to be not getting the whole ABC offense thing of (A) get them on, (B) get them over and (C) get them in. They each did OK on the A and B part but neither could pull the trigger on C.

Fortunately, for the Yankees, the Twins never did get it and the Yankees found a way to win utilizing some timely offense and geting great pitching from rookie right-hander Ivan Nova and their bullpen.

New York managed to shut out Minnesota at their home in Target Field on Sunday in front of a sellout crowd of 41,242 and a national television audience watching on TBS.

Nova (13-4) held the Twins hitless through three innings until Joe Mauer stroked a lined single to right with one out in the fourth. He was promptly erased in a double play.

But over the next three innings, the Twins kept mounting threats against Nova only to be stymied.

In the fifth, the Twins got a leadoff single from Jim Thome and Danny Valencia lofted a fly ball that dropped between and rolled past Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher for a double. Using his wicked slider, Nova was able to strike out Rene Tosoni and Matt Tolbert and Drew Butera rolled out to end the threat.

In the sixth, Mauer smashed a two-out single and Jason Kubel drew a walk. However, Nova shut the Twins down by striking out slugger Jim Thome.

In the seventh, Valencia opened the inning with a single to center. But Nova retired the next three batters on flyball outs.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could not seem to get a big hit when they needed it off starter Nick Blackburn or reliever Anthony Swarzak.

In the first inning, Jeter led off with an infield single and reached second on a passed ball by Butera. Curtis Granderson then drew a walk. However, Mark Teixeira rolled into a double play and Alex Rodriguez, playing in his first game since before the All-Star break due to right knee surgery, bounced out to short.

In he next inning, with one out Blackburn walked Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Brett Gardner in succession to load the bases. On the final pitch to Gardner ,Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and the Twins’ trainer sprinted to the mound and Blackburn left the game with what was termed a lateral forearm strain.

Swarzak entered the game and promptly struck out Eduardo Nunez and Jeter lined out to end that threat.

The Yankees then did not get a hit or walk off Swarzak over the next two innings but they did load the bases with two out in the fifth off left-handed reliever Phil Dumatrait. However, Dumatrait was able to get Rodriguez to pop up weakly to end that threat.

Through five innings, the Yankees were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and they had left seven runners on base, including two innings in which they left the bases loaded.

But the Twins ran out of miracles in the sixth. Robinson Cano lashed an opposite-field double to start the inning. Swisher hit a long fly ball to left that Tosoni caught but Cano was able to tag up and reach third. Cano then scored on a sacrifice line drive smash to center by Russell Martin, his fourth RBI in the three games he played in the series.

The Yankees padded the lead in the next inning by using some fast legs and powerful wrists.

Facing reliever Jose Mijares with one out, Granderson stroked a lined shot off the very top of the wall in right-center and the ball rolled back towards the infield between center-fielder Ben Revere and right-fielder Jason Kubel. By the time Revere got on his horse to retrieve the ball and relayed a throw to Trevor Plouffe, Granderson was heading for home plate. Granderson beat the throw from Plouffe and the tag of Butera for an inside-the-park home run. It was Granderson 35th home run of the season and the third inside-the-park home run of his career.

Teixeira followed with his 34th home run of the season. This one was the traditional over-the-fence kind that landed in the left-field bleachers.

The Yankees protected that 3-0 margin with Nova and bullpen. Nova pitched seven innings and gave up only five hits and one walk and he fanned five batters for his ninth victory in his last 10 starts. He is 9-0 with a 3.48 ERA in those starts. Since his demotion to Triple-A in July, Nova is 5-0 with a 3.55 ERA.

David Robertson continued the Twins’ offensive frustration in the eighth. Robertson gave up singles to Revere and Mauer (Mauer’s third hit of the game) sandwiched by a strikeout. After fanning Kubel for the second out, Robertson walked Thome to load the bases. However, Robertson, who is called “Houdini” by his teammates because of how he escapes bases-loaded jams, got Valencia to hit a routine fly ball that Swisher caught in medium right to end yet another threat.

The Twins left nine runners on and they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on the day.

Mariano Rivera was called upon to close out the game out and he did that by pitching a perfect ninth. He fanned the last two batters to collect his 33rd save in 38 chances and No. 592 in his career.

With the victory, the Yankees’ record improved to 77-48 and they also maintained their half-game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Twins lost three of the four games in the series and fell to 55-71 on the season.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Martin had a good series offensively and defensively. He was 4-for-10 with two home runs and four RBIs. He was 1-for-2 on Sunday with walk, a single and his sac fly scored what was the eventual winning run. Martin also played exceptional defense behind the plate. He called good games for Hughes and Nova, deterred the Twins on the bases and blocked balls in the dirt that saved runs from scoring. Martin stopped two balls in the dirt for Nova with a runner on third in the fifth inning on Sunday. Martin won a Gold Glove in the National League with the Dodgers in 2007.
  • Granderson’s fast feet set him apart from the other candidates for A.L. Most Valuable Player and he showed that skill off on Sunday with his inside-the-park home run. That home run ties him with Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the major-league lead in homers. Despite going 0-for-4 on Saturday, Granderson was 6-for-16 (.375) in the series with a home run and three RBIs. Granderson is tied with Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder for the major-league lead in RBIs with 98.
  • Teixiera’s home run was his second in the series and he also pulled into second place in the American League to Granderson in RBIs with 95. Cano is fourth with 87. Teixiera was 5-for-12 (.417) in the series with two home runs and six RBIs.
  • Nova is pitching far beyond what anyone expected from a 24-year-old rookie. To be sure, Nova has received a lot of run support in his starts. But on Sunday he proved he could win games without it. He pitched five innings of a scoreless game, an inning with a one-run cushion and one with a 3-0 lead. Four of his five strikeouts in the game came with runners in scoring position. That tells you all you need to know about Nova. He is very quietly pitching himself into position to start in the playoffs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • In four previous times in which he played his first game coming off the disabled list, Rodriguez had homered in the game. On three occasions, it came in his first at-bat. But that did not happen on Sunday. A-Rod was 0-for-5 and he committed a misplay in the field, though it was not scored an error. To his credit he did make a great play in scooping a bunt attempt by Revere and barely nipping him at first in the sixth inning.
  • Teixeira’s double play grounder in the first and Nunez’ strikeout with the bases loaded in the second really set the early tone in the game. It truly looked as if the Yankees would not score a run because they kept shooting themselves in the foot. They did finish the game 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and they left 10 runners on base.
  • It is amazing how Robertson is able to load the bases and escape without giving up a run. However, there is nothing wrong with 1-2-3 innings. As it is, Robertson threw 27 pitches in the inning. It is a good thing the Yankees do not play on Monday because Robertson likely would be unavailable to pitch.

BOMBER BANTER

Manager Joe Girardi try to play down the incident between A.J. Burnett and himself that occurred when Burnett was removed from Saturday’s game after only 1 2/3 innings. Burnett shouted an obscenity at Girardi as he left the mound and later Girardi and Burnett both disappeared down the dugout tunnel. Girardi insisted there was no riff and he did hear Burnett say anything after he left the mound. He also said the two did not cross paths in the clubhouse. But Burnett appears to be on very thin ice of being the odd sixth man in what will be a five-man rotation. Burnett gave up seven runs on five hits and three walks in his short stint on Saturday. In addition, Burnett has won only one of his his last nine starts dating back to July 4. In those outings, Burnett is 1-4 with a 6.93 ERA. He was 10-15 with a career-high 5.26 ERA in 2010. To say that the Yankees made a mistake giving Burnett an $82 million contract in 2009 is an understatement.  . . .  When the Yankees activated Rodriguez from the disabled list they sent down left-hander Aaron Laffey to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Laffey made his debut with the Yankees on Saturday and gave up two runs on five hits in three innings.

ON DECK

Off winning three out of four from the Twins and posting a 5-2 road trip, the Yankees will get a day off on Monday. They will host the Oakland Athletics in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium starting on Tuesday.

The Yankees will open the series with right-hander Bartolo Colon (8-7, 3.54 ERA). Colon lost his first start since July 19 as he allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings against Kansas City. He is 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA in August. He is 8-4 with a 2.80 ERA against Oakland in his career . Two of those wins came in his two starts against them season, including a May 30 complete-game, four-hit shutout in Oakland.

The A’s will counter with Brandon McCarthy (6-6, 3.74 ERA). McCarthy gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings in a victory against Baltimore in his last start. He is 1-0 with a 7.36 ERA lifetime against the Yankees He has not faced them this season.

Game-time will be at 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by MY9.

 

Yanks Get Tex Message In 11th To Go Up 2-0

ALDS, GAME 2
YANKEES 4, TWINS 3 (11 INNINGS)


If the majority of the baseball writers who vote for the American League Most Valuable Player award wrote in Mark Teixeira for the top spot, they were vindicated on Friday night.
Teixeira, who singled in the bottom of the ninth ahead of Alex Rodriguez’s two-run home run that tied the game at three, saved his best dramatics for the bottom of the 11th. He led off the inning with a lined bullet off Jose Mijales (0-1) down the leftfield line that hit the top of the wall and bounced into the bleachers as the Minnesota Twins lost their fourth walk-off game of the season to the New York Yankees.

“I really thought it was going to be a double, because I hit it with so much topspin,” Teixeira said. “I hit it hard, but there was so much topspin, I thought there was no chance it was going to get out. I was running hard, making sure I got two. Then the crowd started going nuts — I figured it was a home run.”

This was the Yankees first playoff walk-off victory since Aaron Boone’s home run off Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the deciding game of the 2003 American League Championship Series.
Yankee fans had wondered aloud if the so-called “ghosts” of the old Yankee Stadium would come across the street this season. They may have got their answer, according to Derek Jeter.

“They’ve been showing up all year,” Jeter said to MLB.com. “We’ve had a lot of fun games here, comebacks. You don’t like to fall behind, but if and when we do, we feel that we have a lot of confidence that we can come back.

“It seems like it’s been a magical year so far here, and hopefully, we have a few more great moments.”

With the victory, the Yankees now have a 2-0 stranglehold on the Twins in the American League Division Series as the scene will shift from the very raucous Bronx to the Metrodome in Minneapolis on Saturday.

“Hopefully, we finish the goal that we’ve put out for ourselves all year,” Teixeira told MLB.com. “Right now, you can enjoy it for a couple of hours, but if you don’t take care of business, it kind of loses its magic, I think.”
The walk-off win was set up, as it so often has been in this magical 103-victory season for the Yankees, by some sensational work out of the bullpen. On Friday night, it was no different.
David Robertson (1-0) entered the game in the top of the 11th inning after lefthander Damaso Marte had failed to retire the two lefthanded hitters he was called upon to face — Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel had both singled.
Robertson, who almost did not make the team’s postseason roster because of a sore elbow that shelved him for over three weeks, did give up a single to Michael Cuddyer but Twins’ third-base coach Scott Ullger elected to hold Mauer at third to keep the bases loaded.
Robertson then had to face Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez and Brendan Harris with no safety net.
Young ripped the first pitch but it was hit right to Teixeira at first base.
One out.
Robertson then induced Gomez to also swing at the first pitch and the speedy outfielder slapped a weak grounder to Teixeira. The Gold Glove first baseman, realizing he could not double up Gomez, carefully threw home to make sure he could retire Mauer on a force at the plate.
Two out.
Robertson then had to battle Harris, who had entered the game only because third baseman Matt Tolbert had to leave with a left oblique strain. 
But Harris earlier had tripled in the Twins’ first run of the game in sixth inning and later singled and scored a run in the Twins two-run eighth as they took a 3-1 lead. Harris had also made a sensational diving stop to flag down a potential Derek Jeter hit in the eighth inning. In other words, he had been a thorn in Yankees side all evening.
But on a 1-1 fastball to Harris, Robertson got him to fly out easily to Brett Gardner in centerfield. 
Three out.
Most of the record crowd of 50,006 at the new Yankee Stadium rose as one to cheer Robertson’s effort as he calmly sauntered head down to the dugout.
“Everybody wants to get out of that situation, but nobody really wants to get stuck in that situation,” Robertson told MLB.com. “I was just lucky enough to get out of it.”
The inning, however, was not spared from its share of controversy. Mauer’s single off Marte came after he had earlier hit a pop fly down the leftfield line that ticked off Melky Cabrera’s glove, bounced and landed in the bleachers in foul territory.
Leftfield umpire Phil Cuzzi signaled the ball was foul but television replays showed that the ball had landed about a foot fair and should have been a ground-rule double. But no one on the Twins protested the call.

“There’s always that element of human error in the game, and we got a little break,” Girardi said to MLB.com.

Rodriguez, who entered the game off a two-hit, two-RBI night against the Twins in Game 1, stuck another dagger in the hearts of the Twins’ faithful in the ninth inning. 

With the Yankees trailing 3-1, Teixeira ripped a single to open the inning off Twins closer Joe Nathan, who had 47 saves and an ERA of 2.10 this season. Rodriguez followed and he watched patiently as Nathan threw three consecutive breaking pitches out of the strike zone. A-Rod then took a 3-0 fastball that hit the outside corner for a strike.
But he jumped on Nathan’s next fastball, which was elevated in the strike zone, and Rodriguez drove the ball into the Bronx night sky and it landed in the beefy hands of Yankees pitching coach Mike Harkey in the bullpen.
Yankees fans, who had seen many miracle playoff comebacks in the old Cathedra
l, were treated to another on this evening. Rodriguez, who had been maligned and vilified for his failures to hit in the clutch in past postseasons with the Yankees, took a happy curtain call from the fans after tying the game.
“Obviously, we needed it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s the way we’ve been playing baseball all year. Nothing has changed for us. There’s been a lot of magic in there, and everybody has contributed. For me, personally, that was a lot of fun.”
The Twins were not only bitten badly by the Teixeira and Rodriguez home runs. They also were victims of an incredible night of not getting the big hit at the right time. They left a total of 17 runners on base in 11 innings, the fifth worst number in postseason history dating back to 1903. 
They were handed many chances by Yankees pitchers but failed to cash in with the big one that would have put the game away.
Yankees righthander A.J. Burnett, starting his first postseason game, was effectively wild throughout the game, In the first five innings, he walked four, hit two batters and gave up two hits. But the Twins were unable to push any runs across until the sixth inning.
With two outs and Delmon Young at second base after a stolen base, Harris blasted a 3-1 Burnett fastball off the top of the wall in left-center as Johnny Damon fell and Cabrera missed the carom off the wall and Harris reached third. Burnett escaped further damage by retiring Nick Punto on a groundout but he was removed from the game.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were having problems hitting Twins righthander Nick Blackburn, who also was starting his first postseason game. In the first four innings, Blackburn only issued a walk to Hideki Matsui in the second inning. Robinson Cano broke up any Twins thoughts of a potential no-hitter in the fifth inning with a two-out single.
But once again, the Yankees waited until the Twins scored in the sixth to get their offense going for themselves in their half of the inning.
With one out, Jeter lined double to right-center and Damon coaxed a walk from Blackburn on a full count. Teixera flew out to left for the second out and both runners could not advance.
But Rodriguez, relishing his new role as the Yankees’ latest Mr. October, singled sharply into left to score Jeter to tie the score at 1.
Rodriguez is now 4-for-8 for the first two games series with three singles, a home run and five RBIs. He entered the series on an 0-for-19 slide with runners in scoring position.
“I’m going out there and having fun doing the best that I can,” Rodriguez said to MLB.com. “It’s kind of what I’ve done here for 4 1/2 months since I’ve been back. Hopefully, it continues.”
The Yankees vaunted bullpen, however, hiccuped badly in the top of the eighth.
Phil Hughes, who pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning in Game 1, retired Cuddyer and Young to start the inning. However, he was unable to put away Gomez on a 3-2 pitch and walked him. 
Harris, playing the role of a pest to the hilt, then singled to right as Gomez steamed into third. Punto then stroked a hanging 2-2 curveball up the middle to score Gomez. 
Manager Joe Girardi then opted to bring in closer Mariano Rivera to try to limit the damage but Rivera gave up a single to right to Denard Span that scored Harris with an insurance run to make the score 3-1.
One run the Twins really would have liked to have posted in their run column was left on the basepaths in the fourth inning. With two outs, Burnett hit both Young and Gomez with inside fastballs. Tolbert followed with a clean single to rightfield that looked as if it would score Young easily from second.
However, Gomez rounded second base and quickly decided to go back to second base. His feet slipped out from underneath him and Gomez fell. But just as he scrambled to his feet and headed back to second Swisher had alertly thrown to Jeter at second base. Jeter managed to apply the tag on Gomez just before Young could touch home plate.
The run did not count. 
An oblivious Burnett had to be told when he reached the dugout that the run did not count and he excitedly high-fived Swisher as the rightfielder reached the dugout.
The so-called “Catchergate” scandal surrounding Burnett, however, was not a major consequence in the game. Burnett left the game after six innings and — because Blacksburn was effective early — backup catcher Jose Molina got only one at-bat in the third inning before starting catcher Jorge Posada pinch-hit for him in the sixth.
Girardi had announced in Tuesday’s press conference that Molina would catch Burnett instead of Posada, which had angered the five-time All-Star catcher. 
Posada did deliver a one-out single in the 10th off the embattled Nathan and was lifted for pinch-runner Gardner, who stole second and reached third when Nathan’s pickoff attempt at second went sailing into centerfield. 
But after Jeter drew a walk and Nathan was removed in favor of Mijales, Damon lined into a double play because Gardner had elected to run on contact and he was easily doubled off third.
But the Yankees, who managed to provide their fans 15 walk-off victories this season, delivered their fans the first of the 2009 playoffs.
Burnett topped off the evening by delivering what has become the ritual whipped cream pie to Teixeira’s face as he was being interviewed by TBS television.
“A.J. told me, ‘I finally got you,’” Teixeira said. “So if I’m going to get one this season, I’m glad I waited to the postseason. It was fun.”
The Twins, probably still reeling after seeing so many chances come their way only to fail to win, now head into Game 3 with an 0-9 record against the Yankees this season and they also must deal with the fact that in all six games this season at Yankee Stadium they have had the lead only to eventually lose the game.
Game 3 will also provide a bit of a drama as former Yankees righthander Carl Pavano (14-12, 5.10 ERA) will take the mound in the Metrodome on Sunday night. Pavano has never been a fan or team favorite in New York after he spent most of the time collecting a four-year, $40 million free-agent contract he penned with the Yankees on the disabled list.
He will be opposed by veteran lefthander Andy Pettitte (14-8, 4.16 ERA). Pettitte has a career record of 9-5 with a 3.70 ERA against the Twins. Pettitte, in his only start against the Twins this season on May 18, gave up 12 hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium but won the game 7-6.
Gametime will be 7:07 p.m. EDT.


Yanks Will Bedevil Twins Again In Game 2



AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
TWINS AT YANKEES
GAME 2 PREVIEW


NICK BLACKBURN (11-11, 4.03 ERA) vs. A.J. BURNETT (13-9, 4.04)
at Yankee Stadium
Gametime 6:07 p.m.
TV: TBS


Jose Molina or Jorge Posada?
No item of pre-Series hype caught the media’s attention more than Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s decision to have Jose Molina catch A.J. Burnett in Game 2.
It’s sort of like when Brad Pitt left Jennifer Anniston for Angelina Jolie. The attention is always on the jilted party. But Posada is trying to be the “good soldier” while privately he is very upset.
In the Joe Torre Era, Posada had been dissed by pitchers. Randy Johnson pretty much had a ABJ rule about pitching for the Yankees: Anyone But Jorge. But come playoff time, Torre would insist Posada would start and Johnson capitulated.
Girardi does have statistics to back up his choice. 
In 16 starts throwing to Posada, Burnett held opposing batters to a .270 average, going 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA in those games. In 11 starts with Molina, Burnett was 5-2 with a 3.28 ERA, with opposing batters hitting just .221 off him.

Ultimately, it is Burnett himself who will have to get the Twins out. This will be Burnett’s first postseason appearance and he is anxious to do well.
In two starts against the Twins this season Burnett was 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA. But, as is his wont, Burnett also walked 10 batters in those games. 
“My good games, I’m right,” Burnett said to MLB.com. “And my bad games, it’s not the catcher. It’s me.”

Burnett’s mound opponent, Nick Blackburn, is the polar opposite of Burnett in pitching style. Not blessed with a 97 mile-per-hour fastball, Blackburn lives by moving the ball around and using his sinker and slider mixed in with a changeup.
In his only start on May 16 against the Yankees this season Blackburn gave up four runs over 7 2/3 innings in a 6-4 loss. Blackburn got a no-decision.
It will be very interesting to see how he pitches tonight to Mark Teixeira. Teixeira’s eyes must light like Christmas trees when he sees Blackburn. In six at-bats against Blackburn, Teixeira has not been retired once with a double, a home run and 5 RBIs. 
In fact, Teixeira did most of his damage on Blackburn on May 16. He had a three-run home run in the third inning and his RBI single in the eighth chased Blackburn for the game. He was 4-for-4 against Blackburn with a double, two singles and the home run.
Ron Gardenhire may want to insist his fielders put on helmets when Teixeira bats.
The game Friday night certainly means a lot to both teams, but the Twins obviously need to win one of the two games in New York to have any chance of winning the series. But winning and New York have been mutually exclusive. 
The Twins lost all four games in New York this season and they have not won in Big Apple since 2007. 
Gardenhire has also warned his team that they might want to get a lead and hold it because the Yankees’ bullpen has been so good this season that the Twins can’t like their chances in the final three innings trailing with Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera ready to close the game out.
                                             ********
My game one prediction was a 5-1 victory for the Yankees. So I was close with the 7-2 final they recorded. We will try again.
PREDICTION: YANKEES 7, TWINS 4
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