Other things that happened:
*The Yanks beat up on a tired Minnesota team in a very important game 1. Couldn't be happier with the way things went. As a Yankee fan, you had to be worried about two things:
1) Can CC Sabathia pitch under post-season pressure?
2) Can A-Rod hit under post-season pressure?
Two huge affirmatives on Wednesday, plus a visit or two from our old friend Captain Clutch, the man who can't fail in October. There's just no describing Derek Jeter's reliability in the big game. I was sitting in section 205, right field, on Wednesday, and a definite hush had come over the crowd when CC and Posada gave up 2 runs in the 3rd. I think the general attitude was optimism, but there was no mistaking an 'awareness' of the last few years of playoff futility. The team needed a quick spark, and Jeter's 2-run tying blast came at the perfect time. Which shouldn't surprise anyone, but still, the man is a genius.
From then on, it was a slow beat-down. The tired Twins bats stood no chance against CC or the best bullpen in baseball, and A-Rod, Matsui, and Swisher got big hits to give us the 7-2 win.
Which means that AJ Burnett has a chance to snuff the Twins for good. I don't care how plucky they are, or how strange their turf field may be; they're not coming back from 2-0. 1-0 is almost asking too much.
With all the Burnett-Posada controversy (the absolute last thing the team needed on the verge of the playoffs), AJ better come out firing tonight. He told the media yesterday that the decision to start Molina at catcher wasn't his, but all year he's given various hints and intimations that he didn't feel as confident with Posada behind the plate, and his performance (on the mound and off) was enough to convince Girardi to bench a big bat in favor of defense. I don't mind the decision. Strong pitching is more important than 2 or 3 at-bats. But we better get that capable outing, or all this drama is for naught, and in my book AJ becomes culpable.
Plus, it gives the Twins life. Our foot is on their throats. Time to grind the heel.
In the various other series' my predictions from the last post look good. Let's take a gander...
*Matt Holliday just cost the Cardinals a chance at the World Series.
Now, that's a dramatic statement. Maybe too dramatic. However, I happen to think St. Louis has the best 1-2 pitching punch in the majors, and in any long NL series they have to be the favorite. But with two outs in the ninth, and the Cards on the verge of tying the series and going home, Holliday misjudged a sinking liner into right. The ball hit him in the gut, dropped, and a few minutes later the Dodgers had rallied for a 3-2 walk-off win.
That makes it 2-0, and I'd even call LA a favorite in game 3, with the veteran Vicente Padilla (12-6 on the year) taking on Joel Pineiro, a competent but not spectacular 3rd starter who's only thrown two innings of postseason ball in his life. Of course, if the Cards survive on Saturday, they can throw Carpenter and Wainwright on short rest. That gives them a fighting chance. But I'd rather be LA.
*The Phillies - Rockies series is too tough to call. Lee was dominant, like I expected, but Hamels disappointed in game 2, letting the Rockies back into the discussion. The possibility of Lee in game 5 (or 4, on short rest) gives the Phils a slight edge, but at this point I wouldn't be very shocked if Colorado could take the other 2. They have to rely on Pedro on Saturday, a dicey proposition at this stage of his career, and after that, who knows? Still, if I had to pick right now, I'd still take Philadelphia in 4. The lineup has a strong probability of jumping on game 3 Rockies starter Jason Hammel, whose season ERA is a weak 4.33 (5.73 at home, in the thin air).
*Sound the alarms in Boston. Jon Lester, their only reliable pitcher, just lost game 1. The Angels have a distinct (italics, bold) edge in the next two pitching match-ups. Beckett has been very human in August and September (5.03 and 4.14 ERA, respectively), and after that Boston sinks into the Buccholz/Dice-K/Wakefield swamp. The Angels, meanwhile, trot out Weaver, Kazmir, and Saunders, three strong arms, with the brilliant Lackey ready on full rest for game 5. And the Angels haven't even turned on the running game yet. There are worst guys to depend on for your season than Beckett, but I don't think he's up to the task this time. It's really tough to see Boston coming back.
And by the way, the Angels terrify me. Which is 0% changed from any other time in the past ten years.
So that's the excitement. Time to focus our collective positive energy on the capricious person of AJ Burnett.
It is now...