MINNEAPOLIS --- About forty-five minutes after
Baseball will never again be played in the Metrodome because on Sunday night the Yankees did what the Yankees do, and the Twins didn't do what the Twins are supposed to do. The Twins are supposed to be the most fundamentally sound of organizations, but on Sunday, for the second game in a row, they were doomed by a crushing base-running error. On Friday in New York, it was young
On Sunday in Minnesota, it was
As Punto replayed his blunder over and over in his mind's eye, the Yankees jumped up and down for a few moments in a huddle behind the pitchers' mound after Rivera locked down the series, in what seemed to be perhaps the most routine postseason celebration ever conducted. There were no blown calls in this game, as there had been in Game 2, although home plate umpire
But the Yankees never pressed, and it seemed to be only a matter of time until their superior talent would help them break through. It happened in the seventh, when
"Just kind of the way you draw it up," Girardi said as he watched his players douse each other in champagne and Budweiser tallboys in the visitors' clubhouse after the game. "And Alex had an unbelievable series. Game 2, a monster hit. Game 1, big hits. Tonight, monster hit. That's why he's so great. He's such a talented player, and he was a big part of the reason we won here."
Rodriguez was indeed the hero of this series: he hit .455 (5-for-11) with two home runs, three runs scored and six RBIs. But he is only the most talented and most highly paid member of an extremely talented and highly paid club, one that can simply sit back and wait for good things to happen --- which they normally do. This forces opponents to become so concerned with scoring as much as they can, and being as aggressive as they can, that they do uncharacteristic things like overrunning bags in crucial situations.
The Yankees' next opponent, the Angels, who during the regular season nearly matched them in offensive production (they scored 883 runs to the Yankees' 915), won't be as inclined to force themselves into making mistakes. As he fended off sprays of Bud, Girardi noted that the Yankees' sweep of the Twins will allow them to start
As the last of the Twins' fans filed out of the Metrodome for the last time, an advertisement for the club's next game appeared on the ballpark's videoboard, which seems almost comically puny by today's standards. "NEXT HOME GAME: TWINS VERSUS RED SOX, APRIL 12 @3:30 PM," it read, over a picture of Target Field, the new outdoor stadium that will open in 2010. Minnesota is already looking forward to next year, and another fresh start. For the Yankees, however, the postseason is only now truly beginning.