Theories abound about the ingredients that make for a successful postseason recipe. Is it power pitching, airtight defense, scrappy hitters who keep fouling off nasty offerings, plain ol' dumb luck, etc.?
One thing is certain: Gutsy pitching -- like Johan Santana displayed Tuesday at Yankee Stadium -- can't hurt. But even an ace of Santana's caliber needs at least a modicum of run support, and that's what he got from the versatile
In winning Game 1 of this American League Division Series 2-0, the Twins showed why they're a legitimate threat to win the World Series: They can score in different ways.
Their first run came via small ball in the third inning. Michael Cuddyer led off with a single, was bunted over to second by Henry Blanco and scored on a single by Shannon Stewart. Nothing fancy, just geting 'em on and geting 'em over.
The Twins skipped the foreplay in scoring their second run on a homer to left field by Jacque Jones in the sixth inning for a 2-0 lead that might as well have been 10-0 the way Santana was pitching.
"We play the game the right way. [Tuesday night], we proved what the Minnesota Twins are all about," Santana said.
From the Bench
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had a tough decision to make on whether to play Jones, who flew to New York Tuesday morning after being home in California making arrangements for his father's funeral. Heavy heart and all, Jones came through for Gardenhire with the homer off Mussina. "A lot of guys expected him to do something special [Tuesday night]," Gardenhire said. "I think that was supposed to happen, he's supposed to hit a home run." ... Gardenhire didn't have to look at the flight of the ball to know Ruben Sierra's fly to left field in the seventh inning was foul. "I actually was staring right at Ruben and when he hit it, he started to go and then he stopped and then he saw them point fair and then he took off again. So I was kind of thinking, he knew it was foul, too, because he stopped." Gardenhire asked the umpires to huddle up and make the right call, which they did, and Sierra went on to strike out.
The news on Orlando Hernandez wasn't good for the Yankees. Joe Torre said El Duque didn't have a bullpen session Tuesday and is a "fingers-crossed proposition" to make a start in the Division Series. ... If Santana seemed a bit off from his usual dominance -- he had only five strikeouts -- it was because of the cold weather, Gardenhire said. "It was hard to feel the ball out there. His hand was a little bit cold, but he pitched his heart out." ... The shutout loss marked the second consecutive postseason home game in which the Yankees failed to score, dating to Game 6 of the World Series last season, a 2-0 loss to the Marlins.
Pitching, defense, small ball, long ball -- the Twins had it all going in their Game 1 victory. But don't be fooled into thinking the Twins have this series under control. All this means is that it will be a competitive series -- at least four, if not the maximum five -- and not a rout by the mighty Yankees.
Truth be told, Minnesota toed the line between victory and disaster all night. If any of those double-play ground balls had found a hole, if Sierra's fly ball had not been ruled foul, if Torii Hunter hadn't made two sensational plays in center field -- throwing out Jorge Posada on a sac fly and robbing Alex Rodriguez of a home run -- the Yankees easily could have erupted for one of their trademark big innings. Brad Radke and Carlos Silva, the Twins' starters for the next two games, might not prove nearly as evasive.