Not a lot of news came out of this afternoon’s workout at Yankee Stadium, just a recurring theme of taking nothing for granted with a two-games-to-none lead in a best-of-five series.
“Our situation, the way we look at it is, tomorrow’s a must-win,” Derek Jere* said. “If you have that approach every game that you play, then nothing changes.”
* Who? Pretty sure that should say Derek Jeter. Worth keeping in because it’s one of my most absurd typos ever.
It’s not hard to make a connection between this and the 2001 division series. The Yankees have seen first-hand that a team can go on the road and still come back from a two-game deficit. The Yankees did it nine year ago.
The 2001 Oakland Athletics were a lot like these Yankees. They had two of the most productive corner infielders in the game. They had a 21-game winner and an 18-game winner in the rotation. This was back when Jason Isringhausen was a pretty reliable closer. That A’s team had the second-best record in the league, but settled for the wild card because it had the misfortune of playing in the same division as the 116-win Mariners.
The biggest difference between that Oakland team and this Yankees team might be experience. The A’s were very good, but also very young. Oakland had been to the playoffs once in the previous eight years. Their best players were in their late 20s.
“We have a lot of experience in here,” Joe Girardi said. “Guys that have accomplished a lot in their careers, and they’ve been through winning series (and) losing series. They understand that when you play in New York, the expectations here, and I think they’ve been through it so many times that they understand what it’s about. There’s nothing that necessarily surprises them when you go on the road. Tickets. Rooms. They understand it. And they understand the magnitude of the games.”
• Girardi said the rotation has not changed. If the Yankees lose tomorrow, CC Sabathia will start Game 4.
• Speaking of the rotation, Phil Hughes gets the ball tomorrow. “Last year (in the playoffs) I kind of viewed it as me struggling in the wrong time,” Hughes said. “I really didn’t think that the playoff sort of atmosphere or anything like that factored in. I just wasn’t making good pitches. I feel like I’m in a good spot now coming into the playoffs. I had a couple of good starts leading into this. I don’t think about that at all.”
• Hughes has better numbers at home than on the road this season, but Girardi said he lined up his rotation so that his two lefty starters would face the Twins twice apiece. Home-road splits took a back seat. “I don’t pay too much attention to that at all,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “If you make pitches you’re going to get hitters out. You’re going to get them out here or any ballpark. I think sometimes that gets to be more of a mental thing. Let’s face it, a lot of routine fly balls leave this ballpark.”
• Hughes has thrown one inning since September 26. “He’s thrown a couple of extra side sessions,” Eiland said. “That’s all you really can do.”
• Andy Pettitte feels good the day after his Game 2 win. “Normal soreness in all the right places the day after a start,” Eiland said. “All systems go with him.”
• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he’s considering a lineup change for tomorrow. “I’ve been running a lot of thoughts through, whether we go with speed. Maybe Alexi Cassila in the lineup against a right-hander. Who knows? I’m going to look at it tomorrow, see some numbers and see if we need to move somebody around or not.”
• Girardi did not comment on his lineup. Twins starter Brian Duensing is a lefty, which at least leaves open the option of starting Austin Kearns, though Girardi chose not to use Kearns against lefty Francisco Liriano in Game 1.
• Playing in the AL Central with the Tigers, Marcus Thames and Curtis Granderson have the most regular-season at-bats against Duensing. It’s not much of a scouting report, but here’s what Thames said about him: “Fastball, changeup, slider. Typical guy. Pretty good stuff.”
• The West Point Glee Club will sing the national anthem tomorrow.
• Girardi on whether he felt the need to talk to Hughes to make sure he’s not too anxious or nervous about tomorrow’s start: “It’s not something I’ve had to do the whole year,” Girardi said. “And I think about the experience that he gained last year pitching in important games. You can look at the game where we moved him up to pitch against Boston. He seemed relaxed and he seemed to be himself. I have not been given any indications I’m going to have to talk to him. I’ll look at him tomorrow.”
Associated Press photos of Girardi and Hughes