Check back starting at 6PM for minute-by-minute coverage and reaction to tonight's game...
5:00PM CST- You gotta love cutting out of work early to go home and watch a baseball game on a Wednesday. Is it a viable excuse for leaving 45 minutes before 5 o'clock? Of course not, unless you happen to root for a real baseball team like I do and not a Minor League Team like the Milwaukee Brewers.
And I am damn sure glad I made it home early enough to catch the end of TBS' pre-game coverage. Can somebody explain to me why David Wells was invited to be a studio analyst? The open button-down shirt is bad enough, but when he's providing analysis like "Ron Gardenhire has got a team of baseball players, and they are going to go out tonight and play baseball," you have to think TBS could have found something more productive to do with the money they are paying him. Seriously, ANYTHING they could have spent the money on would have been better than paying Boomer to sit in a desk chair and enlighten us with that wisdom. He makes Tim McCarver sound smart by comparison.
5:02PM- And we're treated to the dynamic duo of Clueless Chip Caray and Grumpy Ron Darling calling the game tonight. After Caray botched the most exciting play of the Tigers-Twins game last night (search for it on YouTube), you have to wonder how badly he can ruin this series. And being a former Met, Ron Darling is going to be so anti-Yankee that ESPN might offer him a contract to host Baseball Tonight by the middle of the 5th inning.
5:05PM- Not to toot my own horn again, but toot-fucking-toot. With the exception of Cervelli instead of Pena, I predicted the entire postseason roster. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept of carrying 3 catchers. Call me crazy, but I'd rather have a utility infielder to cover in case somebody like Jeter or Cano gets hurt than a 3rd catcher who is going to need an act of God to play.
5:08PM- One of the items on CC's scouting report was "Stay in The Moment." What the fuck does that mean? Is he going to time travel to the future to pitch? How about something useful and intelligent like "Needs to Get Ahead in The Count?" Or "Work Both Sides of The Strike Zone?"
5:10PM- There's some nostalgia for Yankee fans: pitcher gets ahead 0-2 in the count and then pussies out to make the count 3-2 before throwing the payoff pitch right down the middle for a double. I missed not being able to see that last postseason.
5:12PM- Was there a bigger hit in last night's game than Cabrera's 2-run homer? Why yes, Chip, as a matter of fact there was. It was the hit that actually won the fucking game.
5:14PM- Are there any fans at the Stadium yet? Is there bad traffic getting in or something? Seriously, what the fuck? It's quieter than Friday night in my bedroom there right now.
5:15PM- Oh there they are. Nothing like a Joe Mauer strikeout to wake everybody up.
5:18PM- CC works around the leadoff double and gets out of the inning unscathed. Time to see what this kid from Minnesota has.
5:25PM- After a long at-bat, Damon pops up to second after Jeter's leadoff hit. Is there any player in baseball who has such a drastic difference in appearance between his swings that produce hits and swings that don't? I dare you to find a player whose "out" swings look worse than Johnny Damon. As soon as the ball leaves his bat, you know if it's an out or a hit.
5:28PM- Here comes A-Hud!!! Anybody that read my live blogs on my old "Shallow Thoughts" column on Facebook remember my comparison for watching A-Rod at-bats and at no time is that more true than playoff time. This is the fan equivalent of banging a chick with no protection who you know has chlamydia and HIV.
5:31PM- Well he didn't strike out, but A-Rod failing to get a hit with RISP just brings back more playoff memories. Ahh, it's like they never left.
I need a beer...
5:37PM- It's only the top of the 2nd and we've already had Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Delmon Young, and Ron Gardenhire hailed by Chip and Ron as the main reason the Twins played so well down the stretch after Justin Morneau went out for the season with injury. Surprisingly, Brett Favre was left off that list, but there's still time.
5:39PM- Brendan Harris ruins my chance for a "you know you're in trouble when your DH is batting .261 with 6 homers and 37 RBIs" joke by lining a base hit off of CC. Fuck you, Brendan Harris. Fuck you right in the A.
5:41PM- Nice play by A-Fraud to end the inning right as Chip claims "their were 2 winners last night but one victor." No, Chip, you're wrong again. Those 2 terms are synonyms and the fact that the Twins are playing tonight while the Tigers are sitting at home tonight proves you're wrong.
Ask Miguel Cabrera if he feels like a winner right now. That guy is back at home with his girlfriend probably getting attacked with a frying pan right now. Not exactly what you expect to be rewarded with when you're a "winner."
5:46PM- It's almost sad at this point watching Hideki Matsui run the bases. If he was a horse, he would have been glue or dog food a long time ago. I know he's produced this season, but I wouldn't re-sign him. Take his money and go find another big bopper who can put up similar numbers without being a liability on the bases.
5:47PM- Wrong again, Chip. The Twins would like to see Brian Duensing take the game MUUUUUUCH deeper than Rick Porcello's 5.2 innings he threw last night. The Twins used pretty much everybody in their pen last night; they want as many innings as they can get out of Duensing. They would take a fucking complete game! Weren't you at the game last night? Were you even paying attention to what happened??
5:49PM- And there's our obligatory "Future batting champion" mention of Robinson Cano. Glad we got that out of the way. And right on cue, he strikes out looking although I'm sure any YES analyst would say he looked like Rod Carew doing it.
5:55PM- Looks like I owe David Wells an apology. He was merely quoting Ron Gardenhire with his "the Twins have a bunch of baseball players" bit. Good assessment of your team, Ron. They must be thrilled to know you think so highly of them to refer to them and their abilities in the most basic, fundamental description of their profression. Feel free to throw a "Good" in front of that phrase next time.
5:58PM- CC gets the double play he needed after doing his best Joba Chamberlain "stall with a runner on first" impression. Good thing too because for some reason no one on the Twins roster scares me more than Denard Span. I know that makes no logical sense with Joe Mauer and Kubel and Cuddyer in the lineup, but I just worry about the impact Span can have on this series.
6:01PM- Memo to Tim Tschida: I know you're an old white guy and CC is a big black dude, but it's OK to give him a call on a 2-2 pitch on the outside corner. I think he deserves more of a right to that call than Orlando Cabrera. Just sayin'...
6:03PM- I know it's early, but the Twins are out-Yankeeing the Yankees right now. They're being patient against CC, waiting to get ahead in the count, and then making him pay when he's forced to groove a pitch over the plate.
6:05PM- Jesus fucking Christ, Jorge. Ya know, the next time you want to bitch and moan about not catching Game 2 in a series, you might want to think about playing well behind the plate in Game 1. 2-0 Twins.
6:07PM- There's the ticket right there. Just strike guys out and then they can't get on base. What a concept! CC at 64 pitches through 3 innings. He needs to reach inside those parachute pants and find some fastballs that stay down in the zone if he wants to make it through 6 tonight.
6:11PM- And there is it!!!! Chip Caray with a repeat of last night's botched call on Swisher's line out. Unbelievable that a guy whose job it is to watch the game blows calls like this. Your old man would be ashamed, Chip. Stop jumping the gun and making calls on plays before they unfold.
6:13PM- OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!!!!! Jeter with a rare homer to left and the game is tied. You had to see that coming after the squib hit by Melky and a first-pitch wild pitch by Duensing. Rookies always want to make sure their next pitch is perferct and that usually means something right down the middle. Jeter knew it was coming and turned it into a souvenir. Even better than that, Chip didn't blow the call by calling it foul or a flyout or something.
6:18PM- Damon's slide breaks up a sure DP ball off the bat of Teix after the first visit to the mound to calm down Duensing and clean the shit out of his pants. Maybe he should think about hitting lefty exclusively. Something about watching him bat righty just looks wrong...
6:19PM- Ron Darling on Brian Duensing: "His ball count so far is excellent." Haha, "ball count." Awesome.
6:21PM- A-Rod goes down flailing and the rally is over almost as quickly as it began. That was a vintage, "2006 A-Rod Playoff Swing" right there. Can somebody get this guy some fucking heroin or something? Anything to calm him down.
6:24PM- I know they're probably contractually obligated to talk to the announcers during the game, but if I was a head coach of any professional team and I had to put on a headset or go stand next to Craig Sager in the middle of a game and answer stupid questions, I would tell the announcers and folks at the network to suck a dick. Nobody's bursting in on Chip Caray while he's doing his job butchering the calling of the game; don't interrupt Girardi and Gardenhire while they're trying to do their job.
6:27PM- Can Jeter catch Rose for the hits record? I personally don't think so. And it's not because I think Jeter will deteriorate that severely as a hitter; I think the fact that he won't have Rose's motivation of having money on the games will keep him short of the record before he finally retires. Let's fact it, when you bet on your own team you're going to make damn sure you get as many hits as possible to make sure you win the game and the bet. Jeter won't have that added pressure to perform and so he'll probably fall a few hundred short before he finally retires.
6:31PM- Yankees are making it too easy on Duensing with all these early swings. Ummm fellas, they played 12 innings last night. They got to the hotel at 4:15 in the morning today. Make them work a little bit.
And can MLB just agree to pass the "Matsui Rule" where any old hitter with multiple knee surgeries is automatically out as soon as the fielder catches the ball? That way we don't have to sit there and wait for him to blow his knee out trying to beat out the throw at first.
6:34PM- I love when announcers say shit like "you can't place this hit any better" on bloop singles like the batter meant to do that. Watch the replay, Ron, Jorge had no intention of popping the ball up into short right field. He took a shitty swing at an up-and-in pitch. It was luck, sheer luck.
6:37PM- Who gives a fuck what the Red Sox are doing on their off-day in California??? It's Game 1 of the Yankees-Twins series, for Christ's sake!!! It's a fucking tie game!!!! Unless you're breaking in to tell us the Red Sox team bus has crashed and everybody has died (which would be awesome), then there's no reason to mention them or the Angels during this game.
(50 bucks says somebody at ESPN paid Craig Sager to do that report)
6:41PM- Thanks for the free run, Cabrera. JFC, that was pathetic. A good throw gets Cano out by a mile there; a half-decent throw gets him by half a mile; a terrible throw still probably gets him out. But hey, I look at Yankee runs like I look at sex: I'll take it any way I can get it.
6:49PM- Fuck, Jeet! What happened to that range you showed all season? That ball couldn't have gone through the infield any slower if it was moving backwards.
6:52PM- Where is all this garbage on the field coming from? Come on, Yankee fans! It's bad enough you aren't cheering for your team at all, don't make it worse by littering.
6:56PM- Jeter steps in to lead off the bottom of the 5th. This is the inning where the Yankees can break the game open. Third time through the lineup against a rookie pitcher with a rising pitch count. A couple runs here could knock this kid out and get into that tired bullpen...
6:59PM- How is it that Joe Mauer can backhand scoop a fastball in the dirt like it's nothing and Jorge can't catch fastballs down the middle? I'll give credit where it's due; Mauer is fucking good. He'll look good in pinstripes in 5-6 years.
7:01PM- I don't want to pick nits here because he's been the MVP of the team this season, but can't Mark Teixeira find a better pre-at-bat entrance song than "I Want To Rock" by Twisted Sister? I don't know what's worse, his entrance music or his swings tonight.
7:03PM- And it is aaaaaaaaa BASEHIT!!! It's a single!! From A-Rod!! And the Yankees take a 4-2 lead! OK, so it doesn't have the same pizzazz as Sterling's call, but that was a huge hit for A-Rod and the Yankees. For once tonight, I agree wholeheartedly with everything Chip Caray said.
It may seem like not a big deal, and in actuality it shouldn't be for a player as talented as A-Rod. But when you consider how awful he has been in the postseason since he first joined the team, that was the postseason equivalent to his game-winning homer off Junichi Tazawa a few months ago. He looked tense and jumpy in his first 2 at-bats, but he was balanced and on the ball for that one, and that's huge for A-Rod. When he's staying back and not shifting his weight forward early on his swing, you know he's in the zone and that was exactly how he looked right there.
7:07PM- I know the kid is a rookie and pitching a playoff game at Yankee Stadium is no easy task, but can Chip Caray calm the fuck down? Throwing 4.2 innings...
Fucking Matsui does it again!! The dude has straight up murdered lefties all year long, and when the lefty on the mound is The Artist Formerly Known as Francisco Liriano, you can pretty much take it to the bank that he's giving up at least 2 runs. 6-2 Yanks.
7:10PM- So where was I? Oh yeah, when you throw 4.2 innings of 7-hit, 5-run ball, that's not exactly a sterling performance. So let's calm down praising Duensing like he just threw a complete game shutout. He did what a rookie usually does: he was predictable his 2nd and 3rd times through the lineup and the Yankees took advantage of that. Period.
7:16PM- Caray and Darling are entering dangerous territory here by talking about how much fun the Yankees had this season. They need to remember that NOBODY has more fun than Brett Favre. Nobody.
7:17PM- And just for the record, A.J. Burnett hitting people in the face with whipped cream pies after each walk-off win has nothing to do with the team's success.
CC gets through another 1-2-3 inning and seems to have found his homeostasis after a shaky first few innings. He's clearly staying in the moment right now.
7:22PM- Wait, wait, wait, Ron. You and Chip were both gobbling on Brian Duensing's apple bag after he got taken out of the game and now you're saying the Twins didn't get good starting pitching tonight. It's one or the other, you can't have both. The kid either battled through 4.2 innings out there and gave the Twins a chance or he sucked. Pick one.
7:25PM- I've mentioned it a few times already tonight, but now between innings seems like the right time to really get into it. What the fuck is up with the crowd at the Stadium tonight? I feel like I'm watching a Friday round at Augusta National instead of the first playoff game at the new Yankee Stadium.
I think the fans have been so brutalized by the last 4 postseasons that they almost expect the Yankees to gag on it at some point. Despite the fact that this year's team played far more loose and relaxed than the past 5, people can't forgive the sins of the past 4 playoff teams yet. They don't want to get too excited too early because they're still waiting for the clock to strike midnight and Sabathia, Burnett, and Teix to turn back into Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright, and Jason Giambi.
It's actually understandable and I can't say I blame them if that is the reason for the reserved demeanor of the crowd tonight. But come on, it's still a Yankee playoff game and your team is still kicking ass right now. You can't live in the past, you gotta do what CC does and "stay in the moment." Forget about the past and go nuts. The trademark of Yankee crowds is their ability to give life to the team with their cheering at key moments. This crowd tonight is like your typical Fenway crowd: just sitting back and waiting for something to cheer about rather than using their cheering to bring about the success they desire.
It's like getting behind the wheel after your first bad car accident. You're going to be a little skittish. The last 5 years have been the car accident and tonight is the first time back in the driver's seat for the fans. I'm sure over time, as the team wins a few and proves they aren't just the latest version of the sad-sack teams of '05 and '06, the crowd will loosen up and get back to being the rowdy Yankee Stadium crowd we know and love.
7:33PM- 2 consecutive runners reach base on a hit batter and a freak infield single off CC's foot. Get back in the moment, CC, get back in the moment!!!"
7:38PM- Not a bad performance by CC tonight, but not a great one. He gave up 8 hits, but struck out 8 too, both of which contributed to his high pitch count. Most importantly, he didn't walk anybody. You can't give batters free passes in the playoffs and expect to win and he didn't give the Twins anything free tonight.
7:41PM- Little surprised to see Hughes in this spot. I would have gone Robertson to face Cabrera, Marte to face Mauer to start the 8th, and then gone to Hughes for the last 2 outs before handing it over to Mo.
7:46PM- HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGHES!!!!! That's why I'm sitting here blogging about the game and Joe is in the dugout managing it.
7:49PM- Good job by somebody in the TBS production truck to make sure Chip cleared up what he was trying to say before Hughes fanned Cabrera. If he actually meant to say that Cabrera has played in the postseason for the Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays then he should just set his headset down, leave the booth quietly, and let Ron finish this baby up solo.
7:52PM- Darling on Jeter: "It's almost like he knows how to perform in every at-bat." Yes, Ron, I would say a multiple-time All-Star and Silver Slugger who holds the all-time record for playoff hits knows how to perform in every at-bat. I mean, shit, he's only been playing for 14 years. I think he might have a small inkling of a clue about what he's doing up there.
7:56PM- Does TBS really have nothing better they can use for analysis of this series than highlights of home runs that players hit back in July? First they showed Cuddyer's off of CC on July 7 and now Teix's off Liriano on July 9, as if either of those plays have any bearing on how any of the players involved would play tonight. Give me career batting averages against specific pitchers, give me batting average with RISP, give me the spray charts and breakdowns of situational hitting; don't give me highlights from 3 months ago.
8:01PM- Another big base hit by A-Roid and it's 7-2 Bombers. I'm calling it. Wave the white flag, Minnesota, because this thing is fucking over. Let Gardenhire go out and finish this game and save the rest of your pen for Friday.
8:06PM- How ironic it is that one of the lyrics to his new song is "Get up off your knees" because that's basically where Bon Jovi has been the last couple of years, practically blowing the folks at ESPN, TBS, and any other network showing major sporting events to use his cookie-cutter songs as the theme music for their broadcasts. It almost brings a tear to my eye every time I hear "Dead Or Alive" on the radio when I think about the insane whore Jovi has become to stay relevant in the 21st century.
8:11PM- Joba really needs to clean that hat or get a new one. It doesn't even look cool or weathered like some other guys whose hats have the sweat stains on them. Joba's looks like it was used as a clean up rag in a bukakke film.
Yeah, I'm reaching for things to talk about at this point...
8:13PM- Goddamn, Joe Mauer can hit! Seriously, when is his contract up?
8:18PM- I can't decide which show I'm going to try harder to avoid watching: "Men Of A Certain Age" or the new George Lopez late-night talk show. I'm leaning towards Lopez because he is just absolutely atrocious and Ray Romano is a pretty funny dude.
In other news, I love what Joe is doing here, taking Hughes out after he showed signs of laboring against Cuddyer, then going lefty-lefty with Coke, and even using Joba. He's getting everybody work so they can get comfortable in this playoff setting but not overworking them to the point where they wouldn't be unavailable on Friday night if A.J. craps out early.
Just keep the midges away from Joba.
8:26PM- While I did leave work early to be home in time for the game and the blog, in my book that's ok because I'm bringing some of the bottles from the Blue Moon 6-pack I bought to work tomorrow to use for a project I'm in charge of. In a way, it's almost like I was still working while I was driving to get the beer, driving home to put the beer in the fridge, and drinking the beer now so I have bottle samples tomorrow. I didn't ditch out, I'm putting in fucking overtime!
Some might call it cutting out of work early, I would call it "project test-bottle sample procurement." Yeah, that sounds a lot better.
8:34PM- "Say your prayers, little one. Don't forget my son. To include everyoooooonnnne-ahhh!"
I still don't get why the networks don't stay on the air for 45 seconds to show Rivera's entrance. It's the most badass, intimidating things in sports and should be celebrated as such. And don't even start on why Joe would bring Mo into a 5-run game. The answer is simple: he wants to win. End of story.
8:43PM- Ummm Mo, what the fuck? End this shit so I can take a piss.
8:45PM- That's more like it. Basically what you would expect from Game 1 of this series. The Yanks got to the rookie pitcher and touched up the tired Twins' bullpen for insurance runs while their well-rested pen shut down Minnesota's offense. Hopefully the Twins can get some rest over the next day and a half and put up more of a fight in Game 2.
Thanks for tuning in tonight, folks, it's been fun and it certainly won't be the last live blog of the postseason since the Yanks are now undefeated in playoff games that I do a live blog for.
Final score: Yankees 8 Twins 2
Frankie, hit 'em with some hot shit.