Pettitte, Berkman help Yankees take 2-0 lead, 5-2
GalleriesALDS Game 2: Yankees 5, Twins 2 ALDS Game 1: Yankees 6, Minnesota 4 Memorable Yankee playoff moments
MINNEAPOLIS - The Yankees spent much of the postgame trying to convince anyone who would listen that this series isn't over.
But, really, does anyone believe that after losing twice at home, the Twins can take three straight - two in the Bronx?
At this point, winning a game might be a stretch.
The Yankees took another step in making their September struggles a distant memory last night, taking Game 2 of the American League Division Series, 5-2, in front of a Target Field record crowd of 42,035.
The Yankees will try to sweep the Twins a second straight year Saturday night in Game 3 at the Stadium, with Phil Hughes facing Twins lefthander Brian Duensing. "We still have a lot of work to do," Joe Girardi said.
"There's no cause for celebration unless this is a best two-out-of-three," said Derek Jeter, who had an RBI single. "We still haven't done anything yet."
Andy Pettitte did plenty, as always seems to be this case at this time of year, pitching seven strong innings to record his 19th career postseason victory, extending his major-league record and eliminating concerns about his left groin not being playoff-ready.
Lance Berkman, whose Yankees tenure had mostly been forgettable, had a game that is sure to endear him to Yankees fans with a go-ahead home run and a tiebreaking double.
"That was the Texas two-step," Nick Swisher said of the performances of Pettitte and Berkman, close friends and Texas natives. "Pettitte's been doing it for his entire career, and the way Big Lance stepped up for us today, we all knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when."
Pettitte, who won all three clinching games in last year's postseason, allowed two runs and five hits, striking out four and walking one.
"I think yesterday I told the guys that I have never felt so unprepared going into the playoffs," Pettitte said. "I got locked in. Mechanically, I just felt great."
Game 1 starter CC Sabathia knew the 38-year-old would be ready. "Him getting three starts under him, we had no doubts," Sabathia said.
Mariano Rivera, who earned his record 40th postseason save in Game 1 Wednesday night in a 11/3-inning outing, allowed Joe Mauer's leadoff single in the ninth in Game 2 before getting a double play and a flyout to notch No. 41.
Kerry Wood, who allowed two base-runners Wednesday, pitched a 1-2-3 eighth to set up Rivera. "It was nice to do it and not have Mo come in for a four-out save," Wood said. "Ultimately, our job down there is to get the ball to Mo with the lead, and we were able to do it tonight."
Berkman did the most damage against Twins starter Carl Pavano, hitting a fifth-inning homer that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead and an RBI double that put them ahead 3-2 in the seventh - one pitch after what the Twins thought was a called third strike. Jeter's RBI single made it 4-2 later in the inning and Curtis Granderson (three hits) had an RBI single in the ninth.
The Yankees played two crisp games here, a surprise to some after a final month in which they went 9-17 in their last 26 games, had to settle for the wild card and were forced to start the playoffs on the road.
Concern, Swisher said, might have been elsewhere, but not in the clubhouse. "I've been trying to tell you all, the postseason comes around here, flip the switch," he said. "The light goes on and it's all business. I think we've gone and done a great job these first two games. We still have a lot of work ahead of us and we need to get back and get this last one."