Right about now there has to be someone in the Twins clubhouse saying, to no one in particular, "What do we have to do to beat these guys?"
The world just wouldn't make sense if that wasn't the case. The Twins not only got home field advantage for this year's renewal of postseason niceties, but they got a game that set up perfectly for them to wind up on top.
The Twins got the first two runs of the game on a Michael Cuddyer home run. They got the next run during a comedy of errors inning by the Yankees that featured CC Sabathia failing to cover first and Jorge Posada reviving his hit Off-Broadway show "Passed Ball Follies." They saw the Yankees blow a couple of early chances with runners in scoring position and watched Francisco Liriano throw five shutout innings. Sure, they gave that lead back in a hurry in the sixth, but, in a huge departure from past years, they drew even in the bottom of the frame. And they drew even because Sabathia walked a rookie on four pitches with the bases loaded.
And all of that still wasn't enough to get the Twins their first playoff win over the Yankees since 2004. Mark Teixeira slammed a mammoth two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning and the Yankee bullpen took care of things from there in the 6-4 series-opening victory.
That makes it seven straight playoff games when the Twins scored first and still failed to beat the Yankees, a stat that boggles the mind and makes you wonder why Joe Girardi looks so pained in the dugout all the time. Once the Twins scored first he should have had all the pressure lifted from his shoulders instead of doing the world's best impression of the main character from the baseball movie that Ingemar Bergman never got around to making.
Lord knows he's got a lot to be happy about at this hour. His team got a mediocre performance from Sabathia, the guy everyone said had to pitch brilliantly for the Yankees to have a chance in the series, and still picked up the victory. He played the bullpen game perfectly with Boone Logan picking up two outs and David Robertson making Jim Thome look awful on a seventh inning strikeout. As if that wasn't enough, Ron Gardenhire even chose to bunt with no one out and a runner on first in the first inning in a move that reminded the world that giving away outs is never a good idea against the Yankees.
It's a bad idea because, for all their issues at various points this season, this remains a Yankee lineup that simply wears you down over the course of a game. That sixth inning rally took off just as Liriano hit the hundred pitch mark and suddenly it became clear that his successes were extremely hard fought and took a heavy toll.
The Twins should have known that. We should have known it too, because we've seen it a million times before. Just like we've seen Mariano Rivera splinter a bat to get out of a dire situation before. It somehow felt brand new when he did it to Denard Span in the eighth inning, though, which must just mean it's been a whole year since playoff baseball took over our lives.
We missed it, although we're pretty sure the Twins aren't in agreement on that particular sentiment.