10/06/2004 2:06 AM ET
Twins set double play record
Minnesota turns postseason-high five twin killings
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
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Twins turn five double plays: 56K | 350K
NEW YORK -- Pitching and defense win games. For the Twins Tuesday, it set records.
By turning five double plays in their American League Division Series opening win at Yankee Stadium, the Twins shattered a postseason record that had been tied several times. And they did it with a variety of twin-killings that would've been shocking if they weren't coming from the Twins.
"That tells you what kind of team we are," said winning pitcher Johan Santana, who saw four of the 10 baserunners he allowed erased by double plays. "That's the way we play, you know. Tonight, we showed how to play the game."
The display began from the first inning. Santana allowed an infield single to Alex Rodriguez and walked Gary Sheffield to bring up cleanup hitter Bernie Williams with one out. Williams battled for nine pitches before watching one of many Santana fastballs pass him by. Rodriguez could not do the same running on the pitch; catcher Henry Blanco easily threw him out at third.
An inning later, Jorge Posada reached third base with one out when John Olerud sliced a medium-length liner to Torii Hunter. Posada tagged up and seemingly expected to score rather easily. Hunter unleashed a throw that reached Blanco on one bounce just as a seemingly shocked Posada was approaching the plate.
The rest were conventional double plays for shortstop Cristian Guzman and second basemen Michael Cuddyer and later Luis Rivas. Santana used a fastball to jam Posada in the fourth for a double-play grounder to Guzman after Williams' leadoff single. Then came another fastball, another double play to Guzman, this one off the bat of Jeter in the fifth.
"It's not an unusual thing for Johan," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "There's not that many to get on base if you look at his numbers this year, but we can catch the ball and he knows he can go to that sinker if he has to."
Then it was Williams' turn in the eighth, grounding to Guzman in the eighth after a four-pitch, one-out walk to Gary Sheffield.
Three teams had hit into four double plays in a Division Series game -- the Braves in the 1995 NLDS, the Astros in the 2001 NLDS and the Angels in the 2002 ALDS. In postseason play overall, 12 teams have turned four double plays in game in Major League history.
The irony of the matter is the Twins finished in the middle of the pack for double plays among American League teams. Minnesota's 158 twin killings ranked sixth in the AL and 10th in the Majors. Guzman, however, ranked third among AL shortstops with 103 double plays turned, 15 behind league leader Miguel Tejada.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.