NEW YORK (AP)—Jason Giambi stood at first base and soaked it all in. One swing turned all those fickle fans in his favor and got Yankee Stadium rocking again.
“I guess I went from zero to hero real quick,” Giambi said. “That’s the great thing about this game.”
After a sloppy loss during the day in Game 1, the Yankees finally put their fans in a frenzy with a three-run seventh inning that snapped a 1-all tie. Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead single off LaTroy Hawkins, and this time it was the Twins who made defensive errors that opened the door.
“Something about a night game here at Yankee Stadium, almost like it just comes alive out there,” Pettitte said. “I don’t get too emotional, usually don’t show too much emotion, but I was pretty emotional out there tonight. … It was a fun game.”
Yankees manager Joe Torre took no chances, bringing in Mariano Rivera to pitch the final two innings for a save.
“When you take Andy Pettitte out with the kind of courage he showed tonight, it would have been tough to replace him with anybody but Rivera. … I don’t think I can trust anybody more than I trust Andy,” Torre said.
The victory came on the 25th anniversary of one of the Yankees’ most famous wins—the day Bucky Dent homered at Fenway Park to help beat Boston in a one-game playoff for the AL East title.
This win gave the Yankees the momentum heading into Game 3, but Minnesota has its home-field magic—the Twins are 13-3 all-time in postseason games at the noisy Metrodome.
“We carried that game deep,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You don’t leave with a good feeling. We won a ballgame here, but sure, we had a good chance again to win here tonight.”
“Do anything to get on toward the end of the game,” Radke said. “Tip your hat to him, took one for the team.”
Juan Rivera’s sacrifice moved Johnson up, and Hawkins, the winner in Game 1, entered to face Soriano. He singled sharply to left for a 2-1 lead—Soriano’s throwing error was one of several defensive miscues by New York on Tuesday.
“I kind of rushed it a little bit. I had more time than I thought I did,” Hawkins said. “If he was two inches taller, he would have caught that.”
Up came Giambi, who fanned against Hawkins in Game 1 and was booed loudly throughout the first two games.
But he changed that in a New York minute, grounding a hard single up the middle through a drawn-in infield for a 4-1 lead.
“When they’re booing, they’re booing because they want to cheer,” Jeter said. “That was a huge hit for him.”
Gardenhire said after the game he thought the long break in the middle of the seventh for the singing of “God Bless America” might have affected Radke.
A well-rested Rivera came out of the bullpen for his first two-inning postseason save since Game 3 of the 2001 World Series against Arizona.
The October chill of a 52-degree night—Soriano went out for batting practice wearing a ski cap—helped give the game a postseason feel that was missing Tuesday.
Game 1 started at 1 p.m. EDT because Fox Sports wanted the Cubs-Braves game in prime time. When New York struggled to score, an unusually quiet Yankee Stadium crowd began booing Bernie Williams, Giambi and the rest of the home team.
It was a far different setting Thursday night.
“You can’t even compare it. Tonight the atmosphere was unbelievable,” Jeter said.
The crowd was buzzing by the time Pettitte whiffed two in the first, and two-strike singles by Soriano, Jeter and Giambi brought fans to their feet moments later. Williams’ bases-loaded sacrifice fly made it 1-0.
Pettitte used a tight slider to set a postseason career high with 10 strikeouts. He allowed four hits in seven innings, improving to 11-7 in 26 postseason starts.
“We sent the right guy to the mound, no doubt about it,” Giambi said.
Radke was on his game, too, minimizing the first-inning damage and retiring 10 in a row before Jorge Posada’s double in the fourth. The Yankees got several singles by fighting off tough pitches, but Radke remained cool and kept them in check with a baffling changeup.
He fanned Giambi with two to end the fifth, bringing more loud boos from the crowd of 56,479.
Torii Hunter led off the fifth with his first career postseason homer. He also circled the bases Tuesday when Williams misplayed his liner to center and Soriano threw away the relay to third.
Knocked out by Anaheim in the first round last year, the Yankees are determined to avoid another postseason failure. Torre held a meeting before Wednesday’s workout and told players to relax.
So far, it’s worked.
David Wells will start Game 4, Torre said. … Pettitte set a club record for postseason wins, surpassing Whitey Ford. But all of Ford’s victories came in the World Series. … Pettitte tied Greg Maddux for third on the career list for postseason wins behind John Smoltz (13) and Tom Glavine (12). … Jeter said he was fine after banging his left shoulder—the same one hedislocated on opening day—into Mientkiewicz.