Thoughts On ALDS Game 1

I attended last night’s Yankees-Twins playoff game, which was the first postseason game in the history of Target Field. The Yankees took Game 1 of the American League Division Series to get a 1-0 lead in the best-of-5 series.

The two teams didn’t do me any favors. I had decided prior to the game that I would drive back to Fargo-Moorhead right afterwards, and with the game going about four hours I didn’t make it back until close to 4 a.m. (construction north of Maple Grove contributed to that as well).

Anyway, a few thoughts on yet another Twins’ loss to the Yankees:

  • First off, if a team gets a 3-0 lead against CC Sabathia, they have to find a way to win that game. Considering it was Sabathia, I’m not surprised the Twins lost. But I do feel like if you hand your No. 1 starter in the postseason – Francisco Liriano – a 3-0 lead, that game has to be won.
  • I agreed with almost all of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire’s decisions last night. The one that really bothered me was leaving Liriano in to face Curtis Granderson. I realize Granderson was 4-for-22 lifetime against Liriano, but it was pretty obvious with the pitch count where it was that Liriano was having trouble staying in front of hitters. And I said that before he gave up the go-ahead two-run triple. I heard Gardy say on the radio after the game that Liriano “deserved the opportunity” to get Granderson out. If he had said, “I thought Liriano gave us the best chance to win,” I could live with that. But he “deserved” it? I don’t know. I think the 24 other guys in the clubhouse deserved the opportunity to be put in the best position to win the game. If you think that’s Liriano, then fine. The calls to fire Gardy – and I heard them Wednesday – are insane. For all I know, he could have brought Jose Mijares in, and Mijares would have given up that triple. It’s easy to criticize baseball managers, since the sport is based entirely on failure (the best hitters get hits 3 out of 10 times, etc.). Just saying if it was me, I’d have pulled Liriano.
  • It’s worth noting that Liriano pitched extremely well in the first five innings. He had some trouble falling behind hitters in the second and third innings but at one point retired 10 in a row. He hit the wall in the sixth, though.
  • I was pretty surprised with the crowd last night, and I heard a couple of callers call in to the postgame and say the same thing. I expected things to be a little more raucous. The only times fans really got into the game were after Michael Cuddyer’s two-run homer and after Orlando Hudson’s great first-to-third baserunning play on the Joe Mauer groundout. After watching the two other playoff games Wednesday, Target Field felt more like Tampa Bay and less like Philadelphia.
  • How great was Hudson’s baserunning play? After a postseason hampered by bad baserunning last year, I’m sure Twins fans had to enjoy that one.
  • At the end of the day, the Yankees made the most of their scoring chances and the Twins didn’t. By my count, Minnesota left eight runners on base in the final four innings. And in three of those four innings, the first two hitters got out. Pretty tough to put together two-out rallies together. The Twins will need to get “ducks on the pond” a little sooner than that tonight if they want to even this series before heading to the Bronx.

4 Responses

  1. Arlan

    Any comments on the strike zone? He didn’t seem to be very consistant, although I don’t think it favored either team. It just seemed to really confuse the hitters.

  2. I’ve heard it was inconsistent. But I’m reluctant to be “that guy” that criticizes the strike zone from his 300 level seats in left field. To steal a line from college football coaches, “I’d have to see the tape.”

  3. I was watching it last night on TBS, which gave me the luxury of watching where every pitch was in real-time. It was far from the worst strike zone I’ve seen recently, but it wasn’t pretty either. There were some real headscratcher ball/strike calls. That and CC was getting a huge zone outside to the lefties. It seemed like every time Jim Thome came up, he took 2 pitches out of the zone and found himself in a 0-2 hole.

  4. Joe Cocker

    I’ll be “that guy.”

    Just thank your personal Puckett’s that C. B. Bucknor isn’t umpping this series. “Bucknor has consistently been regarded as the worst umpire in major league baseball in anonymous polls of active ballplayers:

    In a 2003 Sports Illustrated survey of 550 active major league players, Bucknor was voted as the worst umpire in MLB, with 20.7% of the vote.

    In an updated 2006 SI survey, Bucknor was again voted MLB’s worst umpire, with 21% of the players’ votes.

    In a 2010 ESPN survey of 100 active players taken after Jim Joyce’s blown call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game, Bucknor was once again named the worst umpire in baseball.”

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