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Santana, Twins shut out Yankees

Posted: Wednesday, October 06, 2004

 

  New York Yankees' Jorge Posada is tagged out by Minnesota Twins catcher Henry Blanco during the second inning as home plate umpire Charlie Reliford, left, and Miguel Cairo watch the play in Game 1 of the American League Division Series Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2004 at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Twins won 2-0. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

New York Yankees' Jorge Posada is tagged out by Minnesota Twins catcher Henry Blanco during the second inning as home plate umpire Charlie Reliford, left, and Miguel Cairo watch the play in Game 1 of the American League Division Series Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2004 at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Twins won 2-0.

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

NEW YORK -- Johan Santana and the Minnesota Twins' dazzling defense had the New York Yankees seeing double.

Santana and the Twins escaped trouble with the help of a record-setting five double plays, Jacque Jones homered in his first start since the death of his father, and the Twins beat the Yankees 2-0 Tuesday night to win their eighth straight opener in a postseason series.

''I was able to throw the right pitch at the right time because I know my teammates can make some plays,'' Santana said. ''Tonight we proved what the team, the Minnesota Twins, are all about.''

Minnesota's Soul Patrol outfield twice denied the Yankees with jumping catches -- left fielder Shannon Stewart saved one run and possibly two on Ruben Sierra's shot in the second, and center fielder Torii Hunter pulled in an eighth-inning drive by Alex Rodriguez at the top of the wall.

Hunter also threw out Jorge Posada at the plate in the second to complete the second double play by the Twins, who set a record for twin killings in a nine-inning postseason game.

''That's our game,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Brad Radke now starts for the AL Central champions on Wednesday night, trying to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, which shifts to the noisy Metrodome in Minneapolis starting Friday.

New York, which lost the first game of all three postseason series it played last year, is in familiar position: The Yankees have dropped the first-round opener in three of the last four seasons -- winning the series each time, but losing to Anaheim two years ago after leading 1-0.

Santana, unbeaten in 16 starts since the All-Star break, allowed eight hits in seven innings, the most off him since May 23. Four of the Yankees' first six batters reached safely and 10 of the first 24, but Santana kept escaping.

''He pitched his heart out,'' Gardenhire said. ''He was unbelievable tonight.''

Juan Rincon pitched the eighth, and Joe Nathan finished for the save with the Twins' only 1-2-3 inning of the game. New York, shut out for the second straight time in postseason play, went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

''We had many opportunities,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ''Santana probably didn't have his best stuff tonight, but when he needed to get a groundball, he got it.''

Jones, just back from California after making funeral arrangements for his father, homered off Mike Mussina in the sixth. Jones took a red-eye flight to rejoin the team Tuesday and intends to go back to California for the funeral Thursday.

''A lot of guys on the team expected to see him do something special tonight,'' Gardenhire said. ''I think that's supposed to happen, he's supposed to hit a home run.''

Jones' opposite-field drive to left was his first postseason homer -- he pumped his fist in the air when it cleared the wall just after he rounded first base, and as he crossed the plate he pointed skyward.

''I know he's excited,'' Jones said of his father, Hardy. ''He's watching me like he always has, even when he was here with us.''

The closest the AL East champs came to scoring was in the seventh -- after another of the long ''God Bless America'' renditions that Gardenhire dislikes.

Sierra hit a drive past the left-field foul pole -- left-field umpire Jerry Crawford signaled a home run, but after a huddle by several umpires, the call was correctly reversed to foul, drawing boos from the sellout crowd of 55,749.

Mussina, the most dependable starter on the weakest Yankees' rotation in years, had been 20-2 against the Twins before losing in the playoffs last year and at the Metrodome on Aug. 18.



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