The Yankees entered Game 2 on Thursday looking to continue their momentum from defeating the Twins in Game 1 the night before.
On the mound for New York was Andy Pettitte, looking to brush aside the rust and any side effects of a groin injury that kept him on the disabled list for two months. For the Twins, it was Carl Pavano, pitching against his former team and looking to try and split the series going back to New York.
The Twins got on the board first in the bottom of the second with a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia to right that put Minnesota up 1-0.
In the top of the fourth, Curtis Granderson continued his hot hitting by ripping a double, got to third on Mark Teixeira's single and came home on Alex Rodriguez's sac fly to right and tied the game at 1-1.
In the top of the fifth, Lance Berkman took a Pavano fastball to left center and over the wall for a home run that put the Yankees up 2-1.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Orlando Hudson crushed a Pettitte breaking ball to left for a solo home run and the game was tied at 2-2.
This game was just as competitive as the first one, with both sides not caving in and both pitchers fighting to keep their team in the game.
Then, the Yankees struck with the knockout blow.
In the top of the seventh, Jorge Posada started out the inning by drawing a walk. Berkman then came up again and during the at bat, it looked as if he struck out, but on a questionable pitch, a strike three was called a ball.
On the very next pitch, Berkman drills a pitch off Pavano to dead center over Denard Span's head, which allowed Posada to score all the way from first and gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out to calm Pavano and his players down, then engaged in an argument with home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt that got the Twins manager tossed from the game.
Brett Gardner then dropped down a bunt trying to sacrifice Berkman over, but Valencia couldn't pick the ball up and Gardner ended up with a bunt base hit setting up first and third for Derek Jeter.
Jeter was able to hit a bloop single to right scoring Berkman and extended the Yankee lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, Pettitte finished strong, striking Michael Cuddyer out, getting Jason Kubel to foul out to third and struck out Valencia to finish his night.
Kerry Wood came in the eighth to pitch a scoreless frame which included two strikeouts.
In the top of the ninth inning, Gardner continued to play extremely well by leading off with a single. Jeter's ground out moved him over to second, then was able to steal third with Granderson up at bat.
Granderson then provided the Yankees with more insurance with an RBI single to center scoring Gardner and the Yankees went up 5-2.
Mariano Rivera came into the ninth looking to close out another playoff victory for the Yankees. The Twins were trying to find some magic in their ballpark.
Joe Mauer led off with a single to right, which got the Minnesota fans back into the game with some hope still left in them.
Delmon Young quickly ended that hope by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play and just like that, there were two quick outs and a stunned crowd.
Jim Thome flied out to left to end the game and the Yankees took Game Two over the Twins 5-2 at Target Field.
Pettitte went seven strong innings, allowed five hits, two runs, walked one and struck out four and picked up his 19th career postseason victory, which is the most in baseball history.
Any doubts the Yankees could have had about Pettitte from the groin injury or his layoff from the DL were brushed away as he simply dominated the Minnesota lineup.
The Twins had their chances to get runs off Pettitte early in the second inning with the bases loaded and one out, and all they could get was one run. Other than Hudson's home run in the sixth, the Twins did absolutely nothing against him.
The Yankees bats continue to heat up. Granderson continues to have a great ALDS against the Twins with three more key hits, the final one being an important RBI in the ninth inning.
One bat that finally got going for the Yankees when needed was Berkman's. His home run was so important considering when he was traded for back in July, he only hit one home run all year for the Yankees.
But by hitting that home run, then hitting that go-ahead double in the seventh, it made a lot of the naysayers of Berkman, myself included, forget how poorly he might have been in the second half, especially if he continues to get big hits for the Yankees.
Pavano, just like Francisco Liriano in Game 1, started out well for the Twins, then just ran out of gas. Pavano went six innings, allowed 10 hits, four runs, walked one and struck out three in taking the loss.
The Yankees will return to New York with a commanding 2-0 lead into Saturday night's Game Three, where Phil Hughes will take the ball and make his first ever playoff start for the Yankees where he will face off against Twins lefty Brian Duensing.
So far, the Yankees as the Wild Card, took Minnesota's home field advantage and immediately shattered it with two important wins. On Saturday night. Hughes and the Yankees can close out this series and move on to the American League Championship Series.
Some may even wonder if the Yankees winning the Wild Card instead of the division and getting to play the Twins, and not the Rangers and Cliff Lee in a short series, was a blessing in disguise.
Two down, nine to go until No. 28 for Yankees Universe.