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Yankees-Twins ALDS: Pettitte, A-Rod, Posada, Jeter Help Sweep in 4-1 Win

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IOctober 12, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 11: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees points to teammate Jorge Posada after he tagged out Nick Punto #8 of the Minnesota Twins in Game Three of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 11, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Going into Sunday's Game Three of the American League Division Series, the Yankees had a comfortable 2-0 lead against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees had two chances on the road in the Metrodome to close out the ALDS and move on to play the Los Angeles Angels, who rallied earlier that day and swept the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park.

The Yankees were sending up Andy Pettitte, who has been one of the most clutch Yankees pitchers in team history with 14 postseason wins, while the Twins were countering with Carl Pavano, a former Yankee who never panned out for New York because of multiple injuries, and was trying to rejuvenate his career in 2009 with the Twins.

The game started out as a playoff pitching duel with Pettitte and Pavano, matching zeroes in each inning. While the Yankees were getting everything they expected out of Pettitte, it was also frustrating to watch Pavano pitch well because he never lived up to those types of expectations in his four years.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Twins struck first, as Joe Mauer hit an RBI single to left and scored Denard Span and the Twins were up 1-0. Pettitte got through the rest of the sixth and held Minnesota to the 1-0 score.

In the seventh inning, the Yankees didn't panic and finally struck on Pavano.

Alex Rodriguez hits another huge home run for the Yankees in this series by sending a shot to deep right field and tied the game at 1-1.

Two batters later, Jorge Posada hits the ball the opposite way to left field and it gets over Delmon Young's head and over the wall to put the Yankees ahead 2-1. The Yankees could feel the momentum swinging in their direction.

Pavano finished out the seventh and went seven innings, allowed five hits and two runs, walked none and struck out nine. Pavano pitched very well, but made two costly mistake pitches to two very good Yankee hitters that left the park.

In the bottom of the seventh, Pettitte faced one final batter before Joe Girardi finally took his lefty out of the game.

Pettitte pitched a strong six-and-one-third innings, allowed three hits, one run, walked one and struck out seven. In a big game situation, Pettitte once again came through.

Joba Chamberlain relieved Pettitte in the seventh and breezed through the rest of the inning with strong fastballs. Chamberlain finally looked to be back to his 2007 form.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Twins were rallying to tie the game off Phil Hughes. Nick Punto hit a double and it looked like the Twins might get back in.

Denard Span hit the ball up the middle and looked like it would get through for a base hit, but Derek Jeter got the ball and didn't throw the ball to first, but instead threw home to Posada to stop Punto from scoring. Punto slipped trying to get back to third, which allowed Posada to throw the ball to A-Rod at third and tagging out Punto, which was a huge momentum killer for the Twins and saved the game for the Yankees.

In the top of the ninth, the Yankees got huge insurance runs as Posada hit an RBI single to right to score Mark Teixeira to put the Yankees up 3-1.

Next at-bat, Robinson Cano hits an RBI single to right and puts the Yankees ahead 4-1.

The Yankees had called in Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the eighth inning to get a four-out save. He got the first out against Mauer on a tough inside cutter that shattered Mauer's bat and made him ground out.

In the ninth, Michael Cuddyer singled to right to start the inning off Rivera. But this type of pressure wasn't anything new to the greatest closer in baseball history and postseason history.

Jason Kubel struck out for the first out. Young struck out for the second out. Brendan Harris grounded out to short to end the game and closed out the series for the Yankees.

Pettitte won the game for the Yankees, his 15th career postseason win.

The Yankees sweep the Twins in the ALDS and will now move on to play the Angels in the American League Championship Series. It will be the first time the Yankees will play in the ALCS since 2004.

The Twins fought as hard as they could to get to the 2009 postseason and closed out the Metrodome with a playoff loss. The will move into Target Field in 2010, an outdoor baseball stadium contrast to the indoor Metrodome.

The Yankees got clutch hitting all series from A-Rod (5-for-11, two home runs, six RBI, .455), Jeter (4-for-10, home run, two RBI, .400) and Posada (4-for-11, home run, two RBI, .364). The Yankees also got clutch home runs from A-Rod, Posada and Teixeira in these games.

More importantly, the Yankees got clutch pitching from Pettitte, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, who all combined to pitch a total of 19 innings, allowing a combined three runs and struck out 21 batters, while each of their ERA's (Pettitte: 1.42, Sabathia: 1.35, Burnett: 1.50) were outstanding in the series.

The Yankees will host Game One of the ALCS against the Angels on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. It will be the first time the Yankees and Angels will play each other in an ALCS as both of their playoff meetings had been in the ALDS in 2002 and 2005.

For Yankees Universe, three games down, eight more to go until World Series championship No. 27.

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