NEW YORK -- The other night, I watched Four Nights in October, the ESPN 30-for-30 documentary on Boston's comeback against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.
One thing that stuck with me was Kevin Millar's enthusiasm before Game 4. The Red Sox were facing elimination after getting pounded 19-8 in Game 3, but the next day during batting practice, Millar kept saying, "Don't let us win this game."
In other words, the Yankees would be in a lot more trouble than they knew if the Red Sox could just get the ball moving in the right direction. There's a quote from Yankees GM Brian Cashman in today's New York Post:
We had the Red Sox's number for a hundred years and they found a way. This game can turn around real quick on you in an ugly way. We are doing everything possible to win and not take anything for granted.
This isn't about winning three games. It's about winning one game. Even if the season were to end Sunday night, one win at least changes the story a little. One win would snap this 11-game postseason losing streak. One win would make the Yankees sweat.
You know they don't want this series going back to Minnesota, so the pressure swings to them in Game 4. Worry about Games 4 and 5 if you get there. Just win one game.
Update: Manager Ron Gardenhire had hinted about moving a lefthanded hitter behind Joe Mauer for this game, and Jason Kubel will be there, despite his .080 career postseason batting average.
Kubel has two hits in three career regular season at-bats against Hughes, and this will be the most favorable pitching matchup Kubel sees all series.
"I like that if Joe gets on, first base opens up there -- a chance for him to jerk a ball through the hole. Kubel jerks the ball a little bit more. [Jim] Thome -- they move the defense around so much, it’s a little screwed up. Kube -- it’s normal, he’ll get a chance. ... When there’s a righthander out there and Mauer’s up, they have a tendency to pitch around him a lot if first base is open. With Kubel behind him, it seems like it works pretty good."
Gardenhire also said he'd consider putting Alexi Casilla in the lineup but he decided to go with the same nine players who started the first two games. The decision came down to J.J. Hardy or Casilla, and Hardy gets another chance.
"I decided not to mess with Hardy," Gardenhire said. "I like the fact that with this guy pitching, I can hit and run with Hardy. He’s a very good hit-and-run guy. We talked about maybe trying to move some runners, hitting and running tonight. Hardy’s really good at that."
Note: Head to La Velle's blog for his five keys to a Twins victory in Game 3.
Update: Gardenhire said Nick Blackburn definitely will start Game 4, if the Twins win tonight. They are not considering having Francisco Liriano return on three day's rest.
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Jason Kubel, RF
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Jim Thome, DH
7. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
8. Danny Valencia, 3B
9. J.J. Hardy, SS
Starting pitcher: LH Brian Duensing (10-3, 2.62 ERA)
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Nick Swisher, RF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Marcus Thames, DH
7. Jorge Posada, C
8. Curtis Granderson, CF
9. Brett Gardner, LF
Starting pitcher: RH Phil Hughes (18-8, 4.19 ERA)
Yankee Stadium. First pitch: 7:37 p.m. (Central). TV: TBS. Twins Radio Network