Yankees sweep TwinsAfter so many October misses, Alex Rodriguez delivered the playoff performance his talent demanded. Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit seventh-inning home runs to spoil Carl Pavano’s opportunity to frustrate New Yorkers one more time, and the Yankees advanced to their first AL championship series in five years with a 4-1 victory and sweep of Minnesota on Sunday night.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After so many October misses, Alex Rodriguez delivered the playoff performance his talent demanded.
Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit seventh-inning home runs to spoil Carl Pavano’s opportunity to frustrate New Yorkers one more time, and the Yankees advanced to their first AL championship series in five years with a 4-1 victory and sweep of Minnesota on Sunday night.
Mariano Rivera closed out Game 3 — the last baseball game at the Metrodome — to preserve Andy Pettitte’s record-tying 15th career postseason win.
Game 1 of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels will be at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. The teams were 5-5 against each this season. The Angels swept Boston earlier in the day.
“It’s exciting,” Rodriguez said. “We were very disappointed last year when we went home, and ownership got us some good players. We came out and played like a team, like a group of brothers.”
This pitching duel between former teammates Pettitte and Pavano ended with another first-round playoff victory in Minnesota for the Yankees, who also eliminated the Twins here in 2003 and 2004.
“I was trying to match zeros with him,” Pettitte said.
For all their success this decade by being so good at the basics, the Twins made glaring gaffes at the worst times — against the team that led the majors with 103 wins, they were doomed.
The Yankees aren’t about to let an opponent get away with overrunning the bases, as Carlos Gomez did in Game 2 to cost the Twins a run. Nick Punto then wasted his leadoff double in the eighth by failing to see that Denard Span’s single didn’t get past shortstop Derek Jeter, and he was thrown out trying to retreat to third base.
Pavano’s renaissance was upstaged by Rodriguez, who’s starting to make up for all those past postseasonr failures, and Posada, who proved he wasn’t too proud to publicly wish he started Game 2.
Rodriguez went 5 for 11 with two homers and six RBIs in these three games. Posada complained about being benched for Jose Molina with A.J. Burnett on the mound on Friday.
Posada gave Rivera more room with an RBI single in a two-run ninth against the Minnesota bullpen, as the crowd began to file out of the Dome for the final time.
Pettitte retired 17 of the first 18 batters he faced and left Joba Chamberlain a 2-1 lead in the seventh.
Pettitte matched John Smoltz for career postseason victories. Pettitte’s previous such win came back in the 2003 World Series against Pavano’s Florida Marlins.
The Yankees haven’t experienced that euphoria since 2000, the Pettitte-Posada battery, closer Rivera and captain Jeter the only pieces left.
Rivera, a 10-time All-Star, came in to get Joe Mauer on a bat-shattering groundout to end the eighth after the Twins blew their chance to score against Phil Hughes thanks to Punto’s blunder. Manager Ron Gardenhire had his hands to his head in exasperation, and Orlando Cabrera followed with a fly out to center field that could’ve got the run in.