It is very odd the Yankees last 8 victories against Minnesota have all been come from behind wins. I remember some announcers stating a few years ago how critical it was to get the lead in a game so that you can dictate the game...well I guess that is not correct. It also goes to show how wrong the announcers can be and watching this year on TBS, I can't imagine a worse group of announcers. Wow, they are boring, cliché and clueless about the teams (at least the Yankees). They need to go back to having a front man (maybe a Joe Buck or someone like that) and then get a local commentator from each team as someone who knows what has been going on all year.
OK, on to the important item...the game. Pettitte being sharp is the most exciting item to take from the game. Without 2 quality pitchers it is very hard to win in the postseason. I was also very happy with Rivera having excellent movement on his pitches again and the power strokes delivered by Berkman! Many people have asked about Berkman and whether he would be worth anything and even when he struggled I had said I think he will help us in the postseason...and he delivered. I also read that he worked with Kevin Long and they made a slight adjustment to the point where Berkman told Andy (they are good friends) he was launching balls in BP...Granderson has been hot at a good time and everyone else is at least contributing. This is a good sign, although Minnesota is the weakest team in the AL playoffs.
I predicted a 4 game victory for the Yanks, but I would like to sweep tonight as every game in a 5 game series is the most important one. I expect Hughes to be effective and think we will close it out tonight. If we have the opportunity to close it out, you go ahead and do it...this includes Rivera for 1.1 if needed.
A few other notes from the game:
I would like to see Granderson come up with that ball in CF. He just misses a few of them a year and it keeps him from being a great defensive CF'r. I also feel that Gardner would get that one...somewhat ironic after Gardner came up short on a dive in LF in game 1. In general, both guys can get to the ball very well, both guys have average receiving ability though and Gardner has that little extra speed/gear. Gardner has thrown very well this year, but I would think their arms are pretty close.
A lot was made about the non call against Berkman, but what is not discussed was the ball that was about 8" outside called a strike against him earlier in the count. With the ump calling a fairly consistent strike zone that didn't call strikes on the inside (to lefties) corner, but routinely called pitches 4-6" outside a strike, it was the right call. When I say consistent, I mean the strike zone he was trying to call was consistent (even if odd), but he also missed a lot of calls even with the strike zone the way it was. Berkman had a very good read on the ump and said, "all game the ump was giving a generous outside strike, but was not giving the inside pitch which is why I took the pitch." It is a huge play because of what happened afterward, but this is why all pitches are critical. In fact, take a look at the pitch Andy threw to Hudson before his HR; it was a curve that was a clear strike that was just missed. You can also look at plenty of wide strike calls that were made that hurt the Yanks. Overall, I think the ump behind home plate was awful, but according to the stats who track every pitch, he helped Pavano more than Andy and that makes sense when you think of all the outside strikes (that should have been balls).
The Yanks are facing Brian Duensing tonight he is a 27 year old lefty that has been extremely tough on lefties (.162/.217/.239 =.457 OPS ). He sports a fantastic 2.62 ERA in 130 IP. The concern I had during the season was we needed a lefty killer for pitchers like this and instead we got the extremely mediocre Kearns, who I stated at the time was the wrong pickup. Now we have to play Granderson and Gardner because at least you are sure that you get good defense. I also should note that I stated Granderson was a platoon player and the sooner the Yankees understand that the better we will be. Right now, while I still think Granderson will always be a lot better against righties, the adjustments he and Long made during the season, coupled with being hot, makes Granderson (and Gardner) the correct option(s) to play even against a tough lefty the way the roster is situated.
Let's get a solid 6 or more from Hughes allowing 3 runs or less and wrap this thing up.