Continuing the theme of the 2010 postseason, the turning point of this game was a blown call by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. With a runner on first and nobody out, Carl Pavano had Lance Berkman in a 2-2 hole, and threw a sinker that started inside and ran back over the dish. The pitch was right on the edge, and was called a ball by Wendelstedt. On the next pitch, a changeup below the zone, Lance Berkman smacked a double and scored Jorge Posada from first.
Moments later, the Yankees scored thanks to Derek Jeter being super clutch, and they never looked back. New York ended up loading the bases with only one out on the board, but Jon Rauch served as the human blood clot, stopping the bleeding before it got completely out of hand.
At that point, the Twins were still within two runs and facing a starter who had been sitting and cooling off during this entire rally. They still had a 24% chance to win, but Pettitte got through the bottom of the seventh without a hitch, dropping the Twins chances to 15%. Kerry Wood looked dominant in the eighth, and Mo Rivera did his thing in the ninth, putting the Twins on the verge of elimination.
Before the seventh, the game was a back and forth battle in which no one seemed to be in command. Both teams were trading runs, with both Andy Pettitte and Carl Pavano hitting their spots and keeping the damage to a minimum. Pavano got into some trouble in the sixth (and seventh), but other than that, he was in control of Yankee hitters the rest of the night. He was hitting his spots on the outside corner like a sniper, and doing a good job at getting grounders early on.
Even though the Yankees’ seventh inning is what ultimately did the Twins in, I will direct you back to the bottom half of the second inning. The Twins loaded the bases in the second with only one out, yet managed to score only a single run on a sacrifice fly. That was a big disappointment, and scoring a run actually lowered their Win Expectancy.
If I had to pick an MVP for the Twins, it’d have to be Orlando Hudson or Denard Span. Hudson hit a big homer and was first on the team in WPA, while Span did a great job of working the count and making Pettitte throw pitches, something that won’t show up in the boxscore.
THE CRAIG SAGER SUIT WATCH
When Jack and I discussed doing this feature before the series began, I expected The Salton of Suit to give us more material. On Thursday night, Sager’s suit was actually…reasonable. Sure, he looked like a tablecloth, but it was mild by Sager’s standards. I think he’ll break out the pinstripes when the series moves to New York, and you can bank on that.