09/30/2003 3:15 PM ET
Minny plays major role in victory
Santana and his reinforcements keep Yanks at bay
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- If ever there was an example of regular season history being merely a prologue to postseason play, it was Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
The Twins whisked clear past the pages that read "0-13 the last two years against the Yankees and 2-20 lifetime vs. Mike Mussina."
A new chapter was started in Game 1 of the American League Division Series with a 3-1 win over New York before an electric crowd of 56,292 fans.
"Past history doesn't make difference," said Twins pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, who earned the victory with two innings of scoreless relief in the seventh and eighth. "It's the playoffs. Anything can happen now."
Minnesota holds a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series and has a chance to completely eradicate the Yankees' home-field advantage with a win in Thursday's Game 2.
"We didn't come here to say we want a split," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We came in to play each game and go at it just like that."
Mussina (0-1), who has a 20-2 regular season record vs. Minnesota, gave up all three runs on seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts. To defeat him, the Twins worked him deep in counts, ran aggressively on the bases and played nearly mistake-free baseball.
"When we're able to do those three things, we have a chance to win," said starter Johan Santana, who pitched four scoreless innings before leaving with a cramp in his right hamstring.
"Everybody was making a big deal about Mussina being 20-2 against us," Hawkins said. "Did it make a difference today? (No), it's the playoffs."
The Twins' manufactured their first run on Mussina in the third. Cristian Guzman knocked a one-out soft grounder that rolled under the bare hand of second baseman Alfonso Soriano for a single. Guzman showed some hustle when he moved to third base on Shannon Stewart's single to shallow left field, barely beating Hideki Matsui's perfect throw and the tag.
That set up Luis Rivas' sacrifice fly to center field, which scored Guzman ahead of Bernie Williams' throw for a 1-0 Twins lead.
"The only way we can play (and) win baseball games is to run around the bases hard and take extra bases," Gardenhire said. "We don't hit the ball out of the ballpark often. That's how we play it. It was a great play by Guzman."
When Santana left the game, the bullpen trio of Rick Reed, J.C. Romero and Hawkins pulled together and pitched four scoreless innings.
Seizing on defensive mistakes by New York helped stretch the lead to 3-0 in the sixth. Matthew LeCroy led off with a single near the line in left field. The big break came when Torii Hunter laced a one-out hit to center field that could have been cleanly fielded by Bernie Williams.
Instead, it scooted past Williams' glove and rolled all the way to the wall.
"It hit some kind of knot in the ground and bounced to the right," said Hunter, who drove in LeCroy on the play. "I saw it and I just hauled butt."
As Hunter ran for a triple, Soriano's relay throw to third base sailed over Aaron Boone's head, ricocheted off a wall and went towards left field. Hunter scored on the throwing error.
"We were waiting for our turn, hoping they were going to make a mistake and capitalize on it," Hunter said.
After Romero pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, Hawkins took over and gave up a leadoff single. Runners were on first and third with one out after a fielder's choice when Hawkins struck out Soriano and Johnson with 97 mph fastballs to end the inning.
"He came in throwing the baseball," Gardenhire said. "His fastball was jumping and he did a great job against a lot of great hitters."
The Yankees kept coming against closer Eddie Guardado in the ninth. After Williams hit a leadoff single, Matsui followed with a deep opposite field drive to the warning track in left field. As fans reached out, Stewart made a spectacular leaping catch while banging hard into the wall.
"I was scared, definitely scared," Hunter said. "The Yankees, you can't give up on those guys. They're clutch."
Williams scored on Soriano's two-out infield hit to cut the lead to two runs. Guardado escaped when Nick Johnson grounded out to end the game.
"It was an exciting ending," said third baseman Corey Koskie, who had two hits, including a double. "I'm happy we were able to walk away with a smile on our faces."
And for the first time after two years of futility vs. New York. So much for 0-13.
"Right now as far as we know, we're 1-0," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "That's the biggest thing."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This report was not subject to the approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.