MINNEAPOLIS - The 1-and-2 pitch from Carl Pavano to Lance Berkman in the seventh inning that plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called a ball will live forever in bitter Twins fans' memories. Berkman whacked the next pitch to deep left-centerfield for a double and the go-ahead run in the Yankees' 5-2 win over the Twins in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
But Twins starter Pavano - who lives forever in bitter Yankees fans' memories for a different reason - took the high road, blaming himself for a leadoff walk to Jorge Posada in a 2-2 game.
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"Leadoff walks," he said. "Can't do that late in the game, especially against this team. Posada worked a leadoff walk and Berkman hit a good pitch. That's the way I see it. My job is to make good pitches after that and I didn't do it."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire went out to the mound after Berkman's double and waited for Wendelstedt to join him to get the game moving. The manager and umpire walked together toward home plate, with Gardenhire getting increasingly animated in his protestations, before Wendelstedt threw him out.
"I went out to make sure my guys were straight on what we were going to do next and make my side of the story known," Gardenhire said. "I thought the ball was a strike, he didn't call it a strike and I wanted to make sure he knew that. But I wanted to get him away from my guys, because there are a lot of guys full of emotion at that time and I wanted Carl to concentrate."
The Target Field crowd chanted "Ron-nie, Ron-nie," but that's little comfort to Gardenhire, whose team faces being swept by the Yankees for the second time in two years. Game 3 is tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium.
"We have to figure out a way to beat the Yankees," Gardenhire said. "We haven't done that very well. I think it is documented and my job is to figure out how we can go to New York and beat the Yankees."
Do the Twins doubt they can beat the Yankees? (Hint: They should.) Gardenhire, though, won't concede that.
"That's kind of a sad question," Gardenhire said. "You're questioning a major league baseball team there. We'll play, all right. We have a lot of heart. We have a good baseball team and that's kind of sad that you asked that question."