Going into this evening’s Game 2, the Yankees have to be pretty happy with their situation: They won last night with CC Sabathia on the mound — something they’ll need to do a lot in these playoffs — and in doing so, gained home field advantage in the series. Better still, the Twins are probably wondering today what exactly they need to do to beat this team: An early 3-0 didn’t hold up. Loading the bases against Sabathia when the lefty was almost out of gas resulted in just one run. (Mark Teixeira’s go-ahead home run followed shortly thereafter.) And putting the tying runner in scoring position in the eighth only forced Joe Girardi to bring in Mariano Rivera to get that inning’s final out, then three more (well, four more, really), in the ninth. New stadium, same result.
Andy Pettitte — whose stint on the disabled list was followed by September inconsistency — starts for the Yankees. And Carl Pavano — whose many, many stints on the disabled list turned him into pretty much the least popular Yankee pitcher ever — starts for the Twins. [Crowd boos.] These two, you’ll recall, faced off last year in Game 3 of the ALDS. Pavano took the loss in that game, but he pitched well — except for the seventh inning solo home runs he allowed to Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada.
This year, Pavano turned in his best season since leaving Florida (17-11, 3.75 ERA, 1.195 WHIP), and threw more innings (221) than any Yankees starter not named CC Sabathia. This isn’t bruised-buttocks Carl Pavano. It’s closer to Game-4-of-the-2003-World-Series Carl Pavano. (If things go badly, just don’t take any calls from Pat Jordan.)
Some changes in the Yankees’ lineup: Curtis Granderson will bat second tonight, with Nick Swisher dropping down to sixth. And Lance Berkman gets the start at DH, batting eighth. First pitch is at 6:07 p.m. So regardless of the outcome, at least you’ll get some sleep this time.