Davidoff: As always, Yankees can't lose to Twins

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, left, and

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, left, and Minnesota Twins' Denard Span look at first base after Jeter completed a double play on a ball hit by Orlando Hudson during the first inning of Game 2 of baseball's American League Division Series, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, in Minneapolis. (Credit: AP)


So what will happen next year when these clubs meet up yet again in the playoffs?

Will the umpires do an Alex Rodriguez-style "Ha!" whenever a Yankee hits an infield pop-up?

Will a lunar eclipse distract Denard Span just as he's about to catch a final out?

Or will the Twins, finally beaten down, simply write a respectful note to Major League Baseball, declining the invitation to participate in postseason action?

Good gravy, this Yankees-Twins rivalry is one-sided! The Yankees prevailed once more last night, 5-2, at Target Field, to take a 2-0 ALDS lead. They can sweep away the Twins Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.

"We have to figure out a way to beat the Yankees," Twins manager Ron 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."

Documents: The Yankees have defeated the Twins in 11 of 13 playoff games since 2003, winning the 2003, 2004 and 2009 ALDS. The only losses were to Johan Santana, in '03 and '04.

The talent (and payroll) edges have been overwhelming, but just in case, the baseball gods sure look like Yankees fans. This contest turned, not for the first time with Yankees-Twins, on an umpire's call.

In the seventh inning, when former Yankee Carl Pavano unleashed a 1-and-2 sinker to Lance Berkman for what appeared to be a clear strike three, umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ruled it ball two. Pavano jerked his head and shouted in disappointment.

The next pitch, naturally, went over the head of Twins centerfielder Span for a tiebreaking double.

Gardenhire, who has been running the Twins since 2002, visited Pavano, and it surely was no accident that Gardenhire hung around long enough for Wendelstedt to approach the mound. Within seconds, he ejected a livid Gardenhire.

"I thought the ball was a strike, he didn't call it a strike and I wanted to make sure he knew that," said Gardenhire, who has experienced previous turbulence with Wendelstedt. "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."

It's always something with Yankees-Twins, isn't it? Remember last year's Game 2, when Joe Mauer started the top of the 11th with what should've been a ground-rule double to leftfield? Umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled it foul, and although Mauer wound up getting a single, the Twins subsequently lost the game.

"Everything is fine," Gardenhire said. "Everything is fine. It is baseball. It is the human element, and it is the way it is in this game. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don't."

Even Pavano, once a pinstriped symbol of immaturity, calmly said, "I made [93] pitches tonight. I've got to execute all 100 to get the job done. I didn't do that."

So far, the Yankees' decision not to step on the gas in the season's final weeks is looking prescient. The Twins have been their usual layups and the Rangers have dominated the AL East champion Rays. Barring stunning comebacks, the Yankees will face Cliff Lee and Texas next week, but with the additional breathing room of a best-of-seven series.

"I thought it was a ball," Berkman said of the game's most memorable pitch, "or else I would've swung at it. It was a very borderline pitch."

Always close calls. Always the same results. See you same time, next year.