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10/07/09 11:20 PM EST

Chess Match: Yanks think aggressively

Different outcomes occur when starters are pulled by skippers

NEW YORK -- The Twins hardly looked like a tired team in Wednesday night's 7-2 loss to the Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, especially coming off Tuesday's 12-inning tiebreaker win over the Tigers.

"We're not satisfied with just getting here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game at Yankee Stadium. "But it's been a big accomplishment from where we were to get here. So I don't want to take anything away from my guys for that.

"They believe we have a chance. Our guys are excited. We haven't backed away from too many things this year, especially the last three or four weeks."

Yet the Twins played a rested and confident 103-win Yankees team that showed its aggressiveness early in the game.

Thomson sends Cano
The situation:
With Robinson Cano on first and two outs in the fourth inning, Nick Swisher lines a double into the left-field corner.

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The decision: Without hesitation, third-base coach Rob Thomson waved Cano around third.

The outcome: It was a risky but aggressive play, one that called for a perfect relay throw to nail Cano at the plate. It didn't happen. The throw was a tad up the first-base line, drawing Twins catcher Joe Mauer off the plate. Cano slid in safely to score what turned out to be the winning run, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead they never relinquished.

The analysis: "The one thing about Robbie is that he's a really good baserunner. He got a great jump off that ball, and he really runs [the bases] in a small circle. A lot of times, he can score on that ball down in the corner. There were two outs and so you take a little chance. Sometimes you get burnt, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to be more aggressive." -- Thomson

Gardenhire yanks Duensing
The situation:
After Alex Rodriguez singles home Jeter with two outs in the fifth inning, Gardenhire pulls left-handed starter Brian Duensing.

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The decision: Duensing was replaced by Francisco Liriano, another southpaw, to face the left-handed-hitting Hideki Matsui.

The outcome: On a 2-1 fastball, Matsui hit a two-run homer to dead center, giving the Yankees a 6-2 lead that pretty much iced the game.

The analysis "Frankie is here for a reason. We like him to pitch, and he needs to pitch. Our bullpen has been through a lot. We all saw that. He was fresh and available. Right now, he's making too many mistakes. He just got behind right away and gave up a home run. After that, he threw the ball pretty decently. I didn't want to leave the kid [Duensing] out there and let him get all beat up." -- Gardenhire

Girardi stays just long enough with Sabathia
The situation:
Starter CC Sabathia had already thrown 113 pitches, the last of which was skied to short right by Denard Span with runners on second and third and two outs in the seventh.

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The decision: Yanks manager Joe Girardi didn't let Sabathia finish the inning, going with eighth-inning setup man Phil Hughes in the situation.

The outcome: Hughes threw 10 pitches to Orlando Cabrera and struck him out swinging on a full-count fastball.

The analysis: "As far as pulling CC after 113 pitches, he had worked hard. We had Hughes up. And we had talked about Hughes, letting him [try to get] four outs, five outs if we needed him to. We just thought it was time to go to Phil, give a different look to Cabrera. I thought CC threw a great game." -- Girardi

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.