October 5, 2004
Home field advantage
I am spent. I am a sweaty mess. When A-Rod hit that towering blast to center my heart stopped and I just about collapsed. But the Twins have come out on top and they have gained the home field advantage they lost in the last weeks of the regular season. Not only that, they did it with what is quite possibly the most perfect playoff game we have seen out of them in this string of three consecutive division titles. Let's look at what I'm sure you already know about:
- 5 double plays. This ties a record that goes back to 1914 for the most double plays in a playoff game. Even Cuddyer got in on the action. I don't want to brag, but this is what I was referring to 3 days ago when I said Cuddyer isn't that much of a defensive liability and getting his bat into the lineup would be huge. That brings me to ...
- Timely hitting and manufacturing runs. Cuddyer's single in the third, Blanco's perfect bunt, and Stewart's hit-and-run single was Twins baseball at its finest. Remarkably this one run would be all the Twins would need. Amazing! However ...
- Jacque Jones. The game wouldn't have been complete without some heroics by Jacque Jones. I mean, are you kidding me? His father just died, he catches the red-eye to New York, and he proceeds to muscle an opposite field home run against a pitcher who has dominated him in the past. Torii Hunter said he would do something special, which brings me to ...
- Torii Hunter. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. The playoffs are only one game old, and I don't know how he can defensively come up with anything better. Most people will focus on his robbing A-Rod of a triple in the 8th, but his throw in the 2nd nabbing Posada at home was as spectacular as it gets. It took the perfect throw! Olerud flies out to center, and even before Hunter caught it Cheesehead Craig, who watched the game with me, is yelling "You don't run on Hunter! You don't run on Hunter!" We both got up out of our seats and sure enough, Cheesehead Craig was right: you don't run on Hunter. Wild celebration ensued. Santana must have been pumped. Speaking of Santana ...
- Pitching. Santana labored tonight, no doubt about it. Was it the cold? Was it the pressure? An atypical Santana performance, and yet he still got the shut out. Even when he is off, he still dominates. As Gardenhire said in the post game interviews, "He didn't have his best stuff, but he had very good stuff." The Yankees had 8 hits, but 7 of them were singles. What I find remarkable about his performance, though, is that he only threw 93 pitches. He is going to be ready and rested if he is needed on Saturday.
Rincon did his job in the 8th (with some heroics by Hunter thrown in for good measure), and then Joe Nathan came in with a 2 run lead. Who else was nervous? I was a basket case, I'll admit it. Things were going the Twins way, but this is the bottom of the ninth against the Yankees at Yankee stadium for goodness sake! Having said that, Nathan proceeded to blow everything past the Yankess and make it look easy. His performance was dominating. It is obvious the Twins are a team that is very confident right now.
This was a great game. An absolute joy to watch. Great baseball from a great team. People, the Twins just shut out the Yankees at Yankee stadium in the playoffs!
This picture would be perfect if it included Jones and Nathan. The heroes of the game. Bring on game 2.
Posted by snackeru at October 5, 2004 11:22 PM | Twins
Hi, Shane, great mention of your blog in today's Strib!
Posted by: Sno Cones at October 5, 2004 11:34 PM
You don't run on Hunter!
You don't run on Hunter!
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at October 6, 2004 8:44 AM