Missed chances, call costly in tough loss
Nathan blows save as Twins head home down 0-2 in ALDS
NEW YORK -- For the Twins, the scenario is starting to become commonplace inside this ballpark.The Twins have had to hang their heads and trudge off the field four times in six games this year at Yankee Stadium while watching the Yankees celebrate walk-off win.
Except Friday night's walk-off stung more than the others, considering that it was Game 2 of the American League Division Series and Mark Teixeira's 11th-inning home run off Jose Mijares completed a 4-3 defeat that left Minnesota in an 0-2 hole in the best-of-five series."Those three didn't matter in the regular season, because we are in the playoffs now," said Denard Span. "But we've been to New York twice this year, and it seems like every time we are walking off with our heads down, and it's tough, especially since this is a game we know we needed and we know we should have won this game. But things didn't go the way they should have."
0-2 Division Series deficits
Things certainly didn't go the way the Twins expected with their All-Star closer needing only three outs to send them home to Minnesota with the series tied at 1.Instead, the club faltered in the ninth, and it came with Joe Nathan on the mound. After scoring two runs to break an eighth-inning tie, Minnesota trusted a 3-1 lead to Nathan in the ninth. Teixeira delivered a leadoff single to the start the inning, and Alex Rodriguez followed with a two-run homer to right-center field, tying the game. As Rodriguez's ball landed in the Twins' bullpen, the 50,006 fans packed into the three-deck stadium erupted in cheers, and the building shook as Minnesota's chances of victory seemed slip away. But the Twins managed to keep it tied until the 11th with more drama-filled moments. That is, until Teixeira led off the inning by lining the 2-1 pitch from Mijares over the wall in the left-field corner. The ball stayed fair by a mere foot, landing just above the 318-foot mark to give the Yankees the victory and deliver a crushing blow to the Minnesota.
Stranded on the sacks
|LAD||STL||16 *||10/7/2009||NLDS 1|
|LAA||BOS||16 *||10/5/2008||ALDS 3|
|CHW||HOU||15 *||10/25/2005||WS 3|
|ANA||SF||15 *||10/22/2002||WS 3|
|NYY||NYM||15 *||10/21/2000||WS 1|
|PHI||ATL||15 *||10/10/1993||NLCS 4|
|NYM||OAK||15 *||10/14/1973||WS 2|
|CLE||NYY||14 *||10/5/2007||ALDS 2|
|SD||@STL||14 *||10/7/2006||NLDS 3|
|TOR||OAK||14 *||10/11/1992||ALCS 4|
|DET||SD||14 *||10/12/1984||WS 3|
The loss extended the Twins' postseason losing streak to eight games, dating back to Game 1 of the 2004 Division Series against the Yankees. It also brought Minnesota's record against New York to 0-9 this season, with its last win in the Bronx coming on July 4, 2007."It's really disappointing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I've been walked off enough times here. Some of the things that happened out there were pretty disappointing. It was a good baseball game. A lot of things could have went either way, but didn't go our way again tonight. You end up getting walked off again." There were a lot of things that the Twins could have done to secure themselves a victory even before Nathan's blown save. The club wound up stranding a total of 17 runners on base during the 11-inning affair, which ranks fifth worst all-time in postseason history dating back to 1903, and it had numerous chances early against Yankees starter A.J. Burnett but failed to convert. Yet the AL Central champs couldn't help but be a little frustrated afterward, knowing that they had a chance to take a lead in the top of the 11th inning if it hadn't been for a blown call by the umpires. Having escaped a situation with runners on the corners and one out in the 10th inning thanks to Mijares getting Johnny Damon to line into an inning-ending double play, the Twins appeared to possess the same bounce-back magic they had showed in Tuesday's 12-inning tiebreaker victory. With Joe Mauer leading off the inning, it appeared like they would immediately have a runner in scoring position. Mauer sliced a ball down the left-field line that replays showed to be 10 inches inside the foul line. It should have resulted in a ground-rule double. Instead, left-field umpire Phil Cuzzi called it foul. Mauer still wound up singling, but the Twins had to settle for the bases loaded with no outs following two straight singles from Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer, rather than getting a run home. Despite the missed call, it looked like Minnesota would be in good shape. Instead, Delmon Young lined out, Carlos Gomez hit into a force out, when Teixeira threw out Mauer at home and Brendan Harris flied out to center to end the inning without a run scoring. So afterward, there was obviously a little frustration about the call. "It's obviously a ground-rule double, and who knows what would have happened after that," Cuddyer said. "[The double] would have put us in a good situation. It just seems like one of the things that tend to happen to us here." The Twins are now headed back to the Metrodome, where the ghosts of either the old Yankee Stadium or the new one won't be able to haunt them. Still, they know that coming back from an 0-2 series deficit is never an easy thing to accomplish. The hope of the Twins is that they can build off the experience they garnered over the final three weeks of the regular season, when they went 17-4 down the stretch and faced must-win situations in nearly every game to chase down the Tigers for the AL Central crown. "Now it is lose and you're out," Nick Punto said. "That's kind of how we've played for the last three weeks -- with our backs against the wall. We've got to win three against the Yankees in a row, which is tough to do, but you know it wouldn't be that great of a story if it wasn't like this. We've been playing tough Game 7 baseball for a long time, and now we're back to that Game 7 again."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.