You have to hand it to the Yankees—they are exactly who we thought they were.
Brian Duensing didn't pitch poorly by any stretch of the imagination, but it is not difficult to surrender runs to this potent New York offense. Early on, Duensing was locked in, sprinkling his fastball in among his great breaking balls. He was getting ahead in the count and kept the ball on the ground, doing everything possible for his team.
It's cliche, I know, but one poor pitch to Derek Jeter was a major turnaround point in this game. After that two-run shot off the bat of Jeter, Duensing never returned to the dominant pitching he had going in the first few innings. I'll admit, however, that Duensing's final line of 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 3 SO is better than I expected out of a rookie making the first postseason start of his career.
It should be noted that Duensing gave up five runs in the tiny Yankee Stadium. Playing in this new stadium seems like the baseball equivalent of the Arena Football League: Everything is so small, you know it can't be "real" baseball.
C.C. Sabathia was perhaps the largest—no pun intended—reason the Twins lost. His slider was flawless tonight, and he struck out eight Twins batters in just under seven innings of work. He seemed virtually unhittable, even though he did scatter eight hits during his start. Even though we'll likely have to face Sabathia again this series (providing we win a game), it's good to know that it likely won't be before Game Four.
Like I said, the Twins did manage to get runners on base, tallying more hits than the Yankees on the night. The Twins were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, which should be considered totally unacceptable. Runs are worth their weight in gold in any baseball game, but even more so when playing the Yankees in New York.
The first three batters in the Minnesota lineup and Nick Punto went a combined 8-17 (.471), while the 4-5-6 hitters went 1-12 (.083). Delmon Young and Jason Kubel went a combined 0-8 with four strikeouts, which is also unacceptable, especially in the postseason.
As a side note, Kubel should not be in right field. He is a liability and, while the defensive aspect doesn't matter as much in the diminutive Yankee Stadium, his bat seems to come alive when he doesn't have to track down fly balls on defense. Denard Span should be in left field, Carlos Gomez in center, and Delmon Young in right with Kubel as the designated hitter. This allows Kubel to stay in the game if Gardenhire should opt to make a late-inning defensive substitution.
Fatigue was an issue in this game, but not the kind that has you falling asleep in the dugout. Gomez claimed to have slept from about 4 a.m. until noon, and I'm sure most other players had their fair share of shut-eye as well. No, the fatigue was not the kind displayed via bags under the eyes, but through sloppy play.
Minnesota now has the much-needed opportunity to spend a day napping on the couch and allowing themselves time for emotional and mental recovery. Although just a five-game set, this series is far from over.
Nick Blackburn will start on Friday for the Twins.
Originally published by me at TwinsTarget.com.