Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ALDS Game 1: Yankees 7, Twins 2

No drama to this one. Twins took the early lead, and the Yankees scored the next seven.

I've been skeptical of the way Ron Gardenhire handled his starting pitching the last three games, in part because the choices he made culminated in this game.

Brian Duensing was scheduled to start Sunday, but Gardenhire chose to use Carl Pavano on short rest. Had he started Duensing on Sunday, he could have started Pavano — who has pitched much better against the Tigers than Scott Baker — in Tuesday's game 163. Which, in turn, would have freed Baker, his best starter and one with some success in the past against New York, to pitch Game 1 of the ALDS.

It is true that the Sunday and Tuesday games were essentially elimination games, and Tuesday's wasn't. The Twins had to win those first two games, and they did. And Duensing's previous two starts were unimpressive (a combined 10 1/3 innings with eight earned runs).

But the net effect of putting off Duensing's start was to step up the quality of opposition. Afraid to trust Duensing against weaker teams, Gardenhire found himself forced to start him against the best team in the league.

Duensing did throw strikes — 59 of them in 79 pitches. But during his good run of starts, he kept the ball in the yard, and Derek Jeter took him deep on Wednesday. Which makes three starts in a row with a home run allowed.


Scattered hits: In a book about the Twins 1991 season, Tom Kelly said he figured that if the Twins got 10 hits in a game they'd score plenty of runs.

The Twins got 10 hits Wednesday, and scored just two runs, one of them on a passed ball. Why so few? Because there was just one extra base hit and one walk. And an inconveniently timed DP in the middle of the Twins two-run inning.


So the Twins, heavy underdogs, are down 1-0 in the best of five series. At least they might get some sleep before the next game.

1 comment:

  1. I usually agree with your superb take but I like holding Baker back for what could be either a very important game at home or a non event if it never takes place. Pitting Ace against Ace during the season is the norm - but this is the playoffs and it looks like we have the advantage in the next 3 matchups (Burnett might be a nudge better than Blackie, but the plus is no Posada). Should be fun to watch but most of us fingernail chewers are all out from Tuesday!