09/30/2003 7:35 PM ET
Yankees come up short in Game 1
Offense frustrated much of the way in 3-1 loss to Twins
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- So much for regular-season records.
The Twins found the perfect time to snap their 13-game, two-year losing streak against the
Yankees, as Minnesota defeated New York, 3-1, in the first game of the American League
The Twins took advantage of some mistakes made by the Yankees, including a crucial
sixth-inning play in which Bernie Williams and Alfonso Soriano combined to allow a pair of
runs to score.
"When the game gets sloppy and the ball gets thrown around a little bit that makes it tough,"
said starting and losing pitcher Mike Mussina. "The postseason is minimizing mistakes and
taking advantage of the other team's mistakes. That's what they did today."
New York, which was 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, is now 4-4 in ALDS openers
under manager Joe Torre. Minnesota leads the best-of-five series, 1-0; Game 2 is Thursday
night at Yankee Stadium.
"I'm upset, but it's all right," said owner George Steinbrenner. "I'm never a graceful loser. We'll
turn it around."
Despite the loss of starter Johan Santana to an injury after four innings, the Twins were able to
hold off the Yankees with five solid innings from their bullpen. Rick Reed, J.C. Romero and
LaTroy Hawkins combined for four scoreless innings, while closer Eddie Guardado survived a
late scare in the ninth, holding on to give the Twins the win.
"Their bullpen came in and did their job," said Aaron Boone, who was 2-for-4 in his playoff
debut. "They came in and slammed the door on us. We had some opportunities; we just
couldn't get it done."
Mussina worked out of an early jam in the first and a bases-loaded situation in the fourth.
Minnesota plated its first run of the game in the third, using an infield single by Cristian
Guzman to spark the inning. Soriano had a chance to make the play, but he missed the ball
when he tried to stab it with a bare hand. Guzman moved to third on a Shannon Stewart
single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Luis Rivas, giving the Twins the first lead of the game.
Santana held the Yankees in check over the first four innings, scattering three hits. He worked
out of a jam in the third after walking Nick Johnson and Derek Jeter with two outs, striking
out Jason Giambi to end the threat. Santana left the game after four innings due to a cramp in
his right leg, forcing the Twins to turn to their bullpen much earlier than they had anticipated.
"That's why they are here. They have certainly pitched well as a pitching staff," Torre said.
"Getting him out of the game, we felt that whatever it was, it couldn't be worse."
As it turned out, it was. Reed and Romero got the Twins through the fifth, giving the Twins the
opportunity to pad their lead in the sixth.
After Matthew LeCroy led off with a single, Torii Hunter lined a hit to center with one out. But
the ball got by Williams in center field, allowing LeCroy to score. Soriano cut the ball off and
fired to third to try to nail Hunter, but his throw sailed over the head of Boone, allowing
Hunter to score on the error. Hunter was given a triple and an RBI on the play.
"Torii hit the ball very hard, and it skipped right by me," Williams said. "I was very
disappointed, because I wanted to make that play. I just wasn't able to do it."
"I thought I was going to throw to home plate," Soriano said. "When I saw the runner, I knew
my only chance was at third. I just didn't make a good throw."
Mussina (0-1), who entered the game with a well-publicized 20-2 lifetime record against the
Twins, was charged with three runs over seven innings. He allowed seven hits and walked
three, striking out six.
"I'm OK with the way I pitched," Mussina said. "I got out of a jam early and a bases-loaded
one after that. It's playoff baseball, so you know the games are low-scoring and you just want
to get a few runs. We couldn't do it."
New York threatened again with runners at the corners and one out in the seventh, but
Hawkins struck out Soriano and Johnson, the latter on a nine-pitch at-bat to end the inning.
"He's had good stuff for a long time," Torre said. "He kept the ball down and he has a real
good fastball. He challenged us. They challenged us as a pitching staff. We had a couple of
opportunities and couldn't do much with them."
Hawkins (1-0) sat the Yankees down in order in the eighth, two by strikeout, earning the win
with two scoreless innings.
The Yankees tried to rally in typical October fashion in the ninth, making things tough on
Guardado, the Twins' closer.
Williams, trying to make up for his sixth-inning misplay, started the inning with a single.
Hideki Matsui then drove a ball to the top of the left-field wall, but Stewart made a terrific
leaping catch to rob Matsui of extra bases.
"It was a great play in a big situation," Boone said. "A play like that, you just have to tip your
cap. Matsui hit it well, but (Stewart) was on a dead run heading into the fence. It's just a great
Boone followed with a double to left, putting runners at second and third with one out. Ruben
Sierra flew out to right for the second out, but Soriano beat out a grounder for an infield single,
scoring Williams to make it a 3-1 game. Guardado got Johnson to ground out to third to end
the game, giving the Twins the opener.
"They pitched well, especially with guys on base. They played better than us today," Jeter said.
"We have to play better, that's the bottom line."
The Yankees will try to even the series on Thursday, when Andy Pettitte takes the mound
against Brad Radke.
"The pressure is always on in a short series," Mussina said. "We've lost the first game before
and been able to come back from it. I'm sure we'll come back out here Thursday and play
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.