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Yankees start slow but come on strong to beat Twins, 7-2

New York shows depth and dominance in first game of division series against Minnesota team that didn't arrive in town until after 3 a.m.

October 08, 2009|Mark Gonzalez

NEW YORK — CC Sabathia's rapidly accelerating pitch count suddenly slowed to an economical rate.

And the Yankees' offense that went down methodically the first time around the batting order quickly shifted into high gear.

For the Yankees, this was the perfect change of pace Wednesday night that extended their mastery over the Twins in a 7-2 victory in the first game of their American League division series at Yankee Stadium.

"We couldn't have drawn it up any better for us, but we're not paying attention to any one player on this team," said Derek Jeter, who added to his postseason legend with a two-run, game-tying homer in the third inning that extended his career playoff records to 155 hits and 88 runs.

"We had a lot of people who did the job," he said. "That's how you win a lot of games." That included Alex Rodriguez, who snapped an 0-for-19 postseason mark with runners in scoring position with two out with a pair of RBI singles in the fifth and seventh.

The Yankees, who posted the major leagues' best regular-season record (103-59), flexed their dominance and depth over a Twins team riding an emotional high after winning the American League Central title Tuesday night in a 12-inning tiebreaker over the Tigers. They didn't arrive in New York until after 3 a.m.

"Not at all," Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera replied when asked whether fatigue played a factor in the loss. "I said before, this is the playoffs. There's no excuse for that."

The Yankees, who were 7-0 against the Twins during the regular season, gradually rebounded from a 2-0 deficit in the third. The biggest transformation involved Sabathia, who needed 76 pitches to get through the first four innings.

Sabathia snapped a three-game postseason losing streak and lasted 6 2/3 innings, which allowed Manager Joe Girardi to set up his bullpen.

With the luxury of today's day off, Girardi employed three relievers -- Phil Hughes, Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain -- to produce a scoreless eighth. And with a five-run lead, closer Mariano Rivera came on to pitch a pressure-free scoreless ninth.

"If you want to draw it up, that's the way," said Chamberlain, who induced Delmon Young to ground into a force play to end the eighth. "CC went deep in the game. He threw strikes and got big outs when he needed to."

For Sabathia, this was the ideal stage to vault the Yankees to a 1-0 lead in this best-of-five series after signing a seven-year, $161-million contract last December.

"When I signed, this is what you come here for -- to have a chance to win and have a chance to pitch in October," the pitcher said. "This was fun."

For his part, Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire summed up the Yankees' offense: "Everyone is a stinking All-Star."

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mgonzales@tribune.com

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