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Game balls: Rating Game 2
10/07/2004 12:24 AM ET
MLB.com is awarding "game balls" -- or, in this case, Twinkies, as the boys from Minnesota are so often called, and subway cars, in honor of New York City's mass transit system -- for performances in this year's American League Division Series.

Here's a look at how things shaped up in the Yankees' wild 7-6 win in Game 2.

Yankees
Five subway cars: Empty car, all the seats to yourself
Four subway cars: Smooth ride, even got a nap
Three subway cars: Had to stand, but life is good
Two subway cars: Got my jacket caught in the door
One subway car: Overslept; hot, crowded car; splitting headache

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Alex Rodriguez: OK, so big league ballplayers probably shouldn't be earning more than the gross national product of small countries. But at the least, Rodriguez turned in a performance worthy of a standing ovation. His solo home run in the fifth gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead, his RBI single in the seventh made it 5-3 and his ground-rule double in the 12th tied the game at 6-6 and gave the Yankees the final push of momentum.

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Derek Jeter: Scored New York's first and last runs. In all, a good night for Mr. Yankee.

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Jon Lieber: Don't judge Lieber by the three runs he gave up in the first two innings of his first postseason start. Judge him by the way he pitched from that point forward, as this game unfolded. He shut the Twins down throughout his final 4 2/3 innings of work, and that gave his teammates a chance to climb out of their early 3-1 hole.

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Tanyon Sturtze: Sturtze easily could have been the goat in this game after he gave up a solo home run to Torii Hunter in the top of the 12th. But his teammates bailed him out. Looking back, it was a decent outing from Sturtze, who held the Twins relatively quiet for 2 2/3 innings. He just made one bad pitch that almost proved to be a dagger.

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Mariano Rivera: Rivera looked much more like the pitcher who gave up the winning run in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series than the one known as such an intimidating presence in the closer's role. Brought in to preserve a 5-3 lead with two on in the eighth, he gave up a bloop single to a rookie -- Justin Morneau -- to make it 5-4, then gave up a ground-rule double to Corey Koskie to tie the game. Bye bye, lead. Bye bye, intimidation.

Twins

Five Twinkies: Mom packed the best lunch -- ever
Four Twinkies: You're all that, and a glass of milk
Three Twinkies: Now you're starting to eat like a man
Two Twinkies: You call this a snack?
One Twinkie: No creamy filling; must be a mistake at the Twinkie factory

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Torii Hunter: How do you quiet a bustling city like New York? Easy. Just slap a solo home run in the 12th inning of a tense, tie ballgame. The dinger put the final touch on Hunter's 3-for-6 night, in which he scored three runs.

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Justin Morneau: You're a rookie, you're in the playoffs against the Yankees in the House That Ruth Built and you're facing arguably the best closer in the game in Rivera. This would be enough to even rattle some kid sitting at home playing a video game. But Morneau delivered in the eighth, looping a base hit to right with two men on to knock in a run and make it 5-4. It gave the Twins some much-needed hope.

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Corey Koskie: Hit a clutch ground-rule double off Rivera to tie the game in the eighth. But he also struck out twice with a runner on. The baseball gods giveth, and the baseball gods taketh.

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Brad Radke: Working with a 1-0 lead in the first, he gave up a leadoff home run to Jeter. Working with a 3-1 lead in the third, he gave up a two-run blast to Gary Sheffield. Working in a 3-3 tie in the fifth, he gave up a solo shot to Rodriguez. Yes, it's a potent Yankees lineup, but it's also the playoffs. The Twins needed more from their No. 2 starter.

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Ron Gardenhire: Left Joe Nathan out for a third inning in the bottom of the 12th. Two straight walks and a ground-rule double to A-Rod later, and it was a tie ballgame once again. Now the Twins will likely be without their closer for a crucial Game 3 on Friday. Bad move, Gardy.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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