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2009 American League Division Series 1
From BR Bullpen
|2009 American League Division Series|
|New York Yankees
103 - 59 in the AL
|3 - 0
87 - 76 in the AL
|2009 MLB Postseason|
|AL||NYY - MIN||LAA - NYY||NYY - PHI|
|LAA - BOS|
|NL||LAD - STL||LAD - PHI|
|PHI - COL|
|<< 2008||2010 >>|
The first American League Division Series of 2009 matched the New York Yankees, owners of the best record in baseball, with the Minnesota Twins, who had to win a one-game playoff with the Detroit Tigers to reach the postseason, and that with the worst record of all 8 teams in the 2009 Postseason. A mismatch on paper, it proved to be also a mismatch on the field.
 The Teams
 Series results
|1||New York Yankees 7 Minnesota Twins 2||October 7||CC Sabathia (1-0) Brian Duensing (0-1)|
|2||New York Yankees 4 Minnesota Twins 3||October 9||A.J. Burnett (0-0) Nick Blackburn (0-0)||6:07 p.m.|
|3||Minnesota Twins 1 New York Yankees 4||October 11||Carl Pavano (0-1) Andy Pettitte (1-0)||7:07 p.m.|
 Game 1 @ New Yankee Stadium
|WP: CC Sabathia (1-0), LP: Brian Duensing (0-1)|
|Home Runs: NY - Derek Jeter (1), Hideki Matsui (1)|
- Attendance: 49,464
The Yankees won the first postseason game ever played at New Yankee Stadium in the style they had used to fashion the best record in the major leagues during the regular season: home runs and strong starting pitching. CC Sabathia, winner of 19 games during the regular season, was on the mound for the Yanks, against the very inexperienced Brian Duensing for the Twins. Duensing had made his major league debut earlier in the year, had all of 9 major league starts under his belt, and a lifetime record of 5-2. The Twins, of course, had had to win a grueling 12-inning one-game playoff with the Detroit Tigers less than 24 hours earlier, after playing catch-up for over a month just to get to the postseason, and as a result had been unable to set up their starting rotation optimally for the Division Series.
Duensing went through the first two innings unscathed, and this allowed the Twins to take the early lead in the 3rd as Orlando Cabrera singled with two outs, then Joe Mauer hit a double; a single by Michael Cuddyer and a passed ball by Yankee catcher Jorge Posada put Minnesota ahead 2-0. It wouldn't last long. In the bottom of the inning, Derek Jeter homered with Melky Cabrera on second to tie the score. In the 4th, Nick Swisher doubled with two outs, driving in Robinson Cano from first base, and the Yankees were up, 3-2. They wouldn't look back.
The 5th inning was the big one for the Yankees, as they scored 3 more runs to put the game almost out of reach. Jeter walked to lead off the inning, but was still on second after two outs, when Alex Rodriguez, belying his reputation as a poor postseason performer, singled him in. Francisco Liriano replaced Duensing at this point, but Hideki Matsui greeted him with a home run for a 6-3 New York lead. The Yankees added a 7th run in the 7th, when Rodriguez drove in Jeter from third base with a single off reliever Jon Rauch. During this time, Sabathia had settled down, striking out 8 in 6 2/3 innings and not giving up any further runs. He was replaced by Philip Hughes. Two other relievers took the baton before Mariano Rivera came on to close the game in the 9th. He struck out Brendan Harris and Matt Tolbert, walked Denard Span, then forced Cabrera to hit a weak grounder to Cano at second base to end the game. New York was up, one game to none.
 Game 2 @ New Yankee Stadium
|WP: Dave Robertson (1-0), LP: Jose Mijares (0-1)|
|Home Runs: - NYY: Alex Rodriguez (1), Mark Teixeira (1)|
- Attendance: 50,006
The Minnesota Twins wasted a slew of opportunities in losing Game 2 in extra innings. The match-up featured two pitchers making their post-season debuts, power-pitching free agent signee A.J. Burnett for the Yankees, and young control pitcher Nick Blackburn for the Twins. Both managers made a change to their line-ups, Joe Girardi using Jose Molina as his catcher in place of Jorge Posada, who had started every postseason game for the Yankees in over a decade, and Ron Gardenhire inserting defensive whiz Carlos Gomez in centerfield, moving Jason Kubel to designated hitter.
The game started as a pitchers' duel, with neither team scoring over the first five innings. Blackburn did not give up a hit until Robinson Cano singled with two outs in the 5th and was in complete control. For Burnett, it was more complicated; he gave up only two hits, but walked four batters and hit two more over the same span. The Twins should in fact have taken the lead in the 4th, if not for a baserunning blunder by Gomez. After two outs, Burnett hit Delmon Young and Gomez with pitches, and Matt Tolbert followed with a single to right. Young was going to score easily, but the speedy Gomez slipped and fell rounding second, and when right fielder Nick Swisher threw behind him to Derek Jeter, he tried to return to the second base bag instead of heading for third, and, as a result was tagged out before Young could cross the plate.
Minnesota scored its first run in the 6th as Young walked and stole second when Gomez struck out. Gardenhire sent Brendan Harris to pinch hit for Tolbert, who had a strained oblique muscle, and Harris hit a ball to deep left-center which Johnny Damon couldn't reach; it fell for a triple and a run. The lead didn't last, however. In the bottom of the inning, Jeter hit a ground-rule double, Damon walked, and after Mark Teixeira popped out to shallow left, Alex Rodriguez hit a clutch single to left to score Jeter and tie the score at one. The Twins took another lead in the 8th with Philip Hughes pitching. With two outs, Gomez drew a walk and Harris followed with a single that put runners at the corners. Light-hitting Nick Punto followed with a run-scoring single. Closer Mariano Rivera came in to pitch, but he gave up another single to Denard Span for a 3-1 Twins lead.
Matt Guerrier put down the Yankees in order in the 8th and closer Joe Nathan came in to pitch the 9th. Teixeira greeted him with a solid single, then Rodriguez followed with a two-run blast to center field to tie the score. For Rodriguez, these were already his 4th and 5th RBIs of the Series, not bad for someone who had been widely criticized for never coming through in the postseason. The game headed into extra innings. The Twins placed two men on base against Alfredo Aceves with two out in the 10th, but couldn't convert; they had stranded at least one baserunner in every inning of the game at that point. Then it was the Yankees' turn to waste a golden opportunity. Posada, who had pinch hit for Molina in the 6th, singled with one out; he was replaced by pinch runner Brett Gardner, who took the game into his hands. He quickly stole second, then drew a pick-off attempt at second base from a flustered Nathan, who threw the ball into center field to move Gardner 90 feet away from home. Gardenhire had no choice but to order Jeter to be walked intentionally, setting up a potential double play. He also took out Nathan and replaced him with lefty Jose Mijares. Damon hit a sharp line drive right at shortstop Orlando Cabrera; Gardner was running on contact and Cabrera doubled him easily at third base. The Twins then blew a huge chance to win. Damaso Marte came in to pitch, owner of a season-ERA over 9.00, and he quickly gave up singles to Joe Mauer and Kubel. In fact, Mauer should have had a double, as on a previous pitch in his at-bat, he hit a ball down the left field line which landed a foot inside the foul line after touching the tip of Melky Cabrera's glove and bounced into the stands; however, umpire Phil Cuzzi, standing ten feet away, called the ball foul. Girardi removed Marte before he could do further damage, and replaced him with young Dave Robertson, the next-to-last man in his bullpen. Michael Cuddyer greeted him with another single to load the bases with none out. Robertson then extracted himself from the jam. Young hit a sharp line drive, but right at Teixeira at first base; Gomez hit a ground ball to Teixeira, who threw home to third-string catcher Francisco Cervelli to retire Mauer for out number 2. Harris then flew out to center to end the inning. The Twins had now left 17 runners on base on the night.
The Yankees never gave the Twins another chance. The first batter in the bottom of the 11th, Teixeira, lined a pitch that hit the top of the fence in the left corner, for a walk-off home run. The Yankees won 4-3 and headed to Minnesota with a two games to none lead, while the Twins were still winless at the Yankees' new ballpark, having lost all four regular-season games played there this year, as well as the first two games of the Division Series, in spite of having led at one point in every one of those games.
 Game 3 @ Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
|WP: Andy Pettitte (1-0), LP: Carl Pavano (0-1), SV: Mariano Rivera (1)|
|Home Runs: - NYY: Alex Rodriguez (2); Jorge Posada (1)|
- Attendance: 54,735
The Yankees completed their sweep of the Twins with a 4-1 win in the last baseball game to be played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The game pitted former Yankee Carl Pavano, pitching for the Twins, against veteran Andy Pettitte for the Yankees. The Twins had had to place Matt Tolbert on the disabled list as a result of his injury in Game 2 and Brendan Harris was starting at third base, with Jose Morales taking over as the designated hitter; for the Yankees, Jorge Posada was back in the line-up as the starting catcher.
The game began as a pitchers' duel, with both starters methodically mowing down their opponents, collecting strikeouts without walking anyone. The game was still scoreless after 5 innings, thanks in part to a clutch play by the Yankees' defense. Michael Cuddyer had led off the 5th with a single, and the next batter, Jason Kubel, hit a sharp grounder just under 2B Robinson Cano's glove. Cuddyer did not break for second base immediately, and when RF Nick Swisher picked up the ball, he threw to Derek Jeter at second base to nail the lead runner. The Yankees went down without scoring in the top of the 6th, but the Twins registered the game's first run in the bottom of the inning. Denard Span singled with two outs and stole second. Orlando Cabrera drew a walk and Joe Mauer followed with a run-scoring single. For the third straight game, the Twins had taken a lead, and for the third straight game, they would lose it and the game. Pavano retired leadoff hitter Mark Teixeira on a ground ball in the 7th, but Alex Rodriguez followed with his second homer of the series, a long shot to right field, to tie the game. One batter later, Jorge Posada drove a ball to left that landed in the first row of seats, just out of Delmon Young's reach, for a 2-1 Yankees lead.
The Twins now tried to tie the score. Andy Pettitte struck out Jason Kubel to start the 7th, then left the game, having given up a run on 3 hits in 7 1/3 innings. He was replaced by Joba Chamberlain, back in the bullpen for the series after being starter during the regular season; he immediately gave up a double to Young, but he was stranded there. Matt Guerrier relieved Pavano to start the 8th and set down the Yankees in order. The Twins then wasted their best chance to even the game, and it was, as in Game 2, on a baserunning mistake. Philip Hughes replaced Chamberlain on the mound and gave up a lead-off double to Nick Punto. Span then followed with a ground ball to shortstop that advanced Punto to third; however Punto ran through third base and Jeter saw him, threw home, and Posada then threw back to Rodriguez at third to erase the runner. Minnesota went down meekly after that downer.
Minnesota still had a chance if they kept the Yankees off the scoreboard in the top of the 9th, but manager Ron Gardenhire decided not to bring in his ace closer Joe Nathan to do the job. Instead, LOOGY Ron Mahay came in and struck out Johnny Damon, but walked Teixeira. Jon Rauch came in to face Rodriguez, but walked him too. Lefty Jose Mijares came in to face Hideki Matsui, and another walk resulted, loading the bases. Finally, Nathan came in, but the first two batters he faced, Posada and Cano, both hit singles to right to bring the lead to 4-1. The Twins needed a miracle to stay alive, but it wasn't to be. All-time great closer Mariano Rivera came in to pitch the 9th. He gave up a lead-off single to Cuddyer, but then struck out Kubel and Young and induced a ground ball to Jeter by Harris, and the game was over. Rivera had picked up another save, and Andy Pettitte was a winner in the postseason for the 15th time, tying the record established by John Smoltz. The Yankees would go on to face the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ALCS.
 Related Sites
|Major League Baseball American League Division Series