Yanks can walk the walk-off vs. Twins
Trio of close wins in May a possible sign of things to come
NEW YORK -- If the Yankees were at home watching as Alexi Casilla celebrated winning the American League Central for the Twins, you could have excused them for flashing a knowing smile.
The Yankees had their own wonderful three-day set of walk-offs against that same Twins team they'll welcome to Yankee Stadium for Wednesday's Game 1 of the American League Division Series, with CC Sabathia throwing the scheduled first pitch at 6:07 p.m. ET.
On May 15 at Yankee Stadium, Melky Cabrera stunned the Twins with a bases-loaded single that came with two outs, driving in two runs to lift the Yankees to a 5-4 victory in front of 43,856 fans chanting his name.
The rally started when Brett Gardner legged out a triple off Twins closer Joe Nathan, and Mark Teixeira followed with a run-scoring single. Alex Rodriguez walked to put the tying run on base, and after a strikeout, groundout and intentional walk, Cabrera made the Yankees winners.
|Gm. 1||NYY 7, MIN 2||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 2||NYY 4, MIN 3 (11)||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 3||NYY 4, MIN 1||Wrap||Video|
"The fact that I had a chance to be in the position to help the team, I really felt good," Cabrera said then. "[The fans chanting] helped my confidence, and I was just ready to do what I had to do."
The magic continued a day later on May 16, as Rodriguez crushed a Craig Breslow slider over the left-field fence for a two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, giving the Yankees a 6-4 victory and marking his first hit at the new Yankee Stadium to stun the Twins.
"He's one of the few guys who have the ability to do this fairly often," manager Joe Girardi said. "Not everybody can hit a ball 500 feet, but he has the ability at any time."
The walk-off party continued on May 17, with A.J. Burnett getting plenty of exercise in smashing teammates in the face with whipped cream.
Johnny Damon became the latest one to take one in the face, slugging a 10th-inning home run off Twins reliever Jesse Crain and lifting the Yankees to a 3-2 victory for the club's first string of three consecutive walk-off wins since Aug. 27-29, 1972.
"I'll take it any time," Damon said, minutes after wiping himself clean upon being hit during a television interview. "One thing I did figure out is that whipped cream makes a good hair product."
The Yankees finished the regular season with 15 walk-off victories in total, marking their most such wins since a franchise-record 17 walk-off victories in 1943, allowing everyone from A-Rod to Juan Miranda to take a whipped cream face bath.
The Yankees also completed the season 7-0 against the Twins, who won't have much time to bounce back from their victory lap around the Metrodome. A date in the Bronx awaits, and knowing these two teams, don't be surprised if one of these games comes down to the very end.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.