Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.
Last year, the first-round of the playoffs was over in a blink, as three teams swept (the Yankees, Angels and Dodgers) and the other series (Phillies over Rockies) was over in four games.
So no wonder there's such a sense of doom and gloom in the comments section.
Looking for an example of a first-round series where the team that won Game 1 didn't advance? You'd have to go back to 2006, when the Yankees defeated the Tigers in New York only to see Detroit storm back to win the next three games.
Riding a 10-game postseason losing streak, the Twins have forgotten what victory tastes like this time of year. They haven't done it since Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS against the Yankees.
Will that change tonight or will this be the 2010 finale at Target Field? I'm not sure. But here are few things from Game 1 the Twins can build on:
* Michael Cuddyer had two extra-base hits off CC Sabathia -- a two-run homer, and a sixth-inning double.
* Jason Kubel flied out to deep left field in his second at-bat and walked in his final two plate appearances. Already, he has reached base more times than he did in last year's ALDS, when he went 1-for-14 with nine strikeouts.
* After striking out in his first two at-bats, rookie Danny Valencia drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game and reached on an infield single in the eighth inning.
* Brian Fuentes retired all five batters he faced, and Jon Rauch pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning. By then, Mark Teixeira had hit his two-run homer off Jesse Crain, giving the Yankees a 6-4 lead, but the Twins can move forward knowing two of their setup men have their feet wet in this series and are throwing well. Rauch was a question mark last weekend because of swelling in his left knee, but he didn't appear to have any problems.
Update: As expected, the Twins are going with the same lineup for Game 2. ... Fuentes threw 25 pitches in Game 1, but Gardenhire said he should be ready to pitch tonight. ... Gardenhire on the stakes: "This is a huge game. This is almost a do-or-die type thing; we don’t want to go into New York down 0-2. You try not to put pressure on guys, but this is one we have to get. We need this game." ... And as for the mood of the clubhouse, Gardenhire said, "I’ve been hearing a bunch of yelling in there so that tells me they’re pretty loose."
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Curtis Granderson, CF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Jorge Posada, C
8. Lance Berkman, DH
9. Brett Gardner, LF
Starting pitcher: LH Andy Pettitte (11-3, 3.28 ERA)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Delmon Young, LF
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
7. Jason Kubel, RF
8. Danny Valencia, 3B
9. J.J. Hardy, SS
Starting pitcher: RH Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.75 ERA)
Target Field. First pitch: 5:07 p.m. TV: TBS. Twins Radio Network
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