Bases loaded with a one-run lead didn't scare Jason Marquis, not after what he and his family, particularly his young daughter Reese, have gone through in the last month.
Reese, 7, nearly died after suffering severe internal bleeding caused by a bicycle accident in mid-March. But after four surgeries and weeks of hospitalization, she was able to watch her father start, and win, his first game with the Minnesota Twins in a 6-5 victory Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
So while hanging on to a 4-3 lead with the bases loaded in the first inning, Marquis was not about to buckle.
"Obviously, this situation with my daughter, she was able to do some amazing things in terms of recovery. What she went through, no kid should ever go through, let alone an adult," Marquis said. "She's come out of it better, and that's the mentality I try to take out on the mound. Just like that first inning, you can't give in, you've got to keep making pitches and positive things will come."
It wasn't easy, but the Twins got what they were looking for, taking a 2-1 series lead and a chance to win their first series at Yankee Stadium since 2001 going into Thursday night's series finale. Though he nearly squandered a 4-0 lead in the first inning, Marquis (1-0) rebounded and earned the victory, allowing four earned runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings.
"That was a hard five innings," Gardenhire said. "And as I expected, when we went to take him out he said, 'I've got more.' I told him that's good enough for tonight. He's had a lot going on."
Marquis' previous two starts were with the Twins' Class AA team in New Britain, Conn., a convenient locale because it's two hours from his home in Staten Island -- in between he was able to be home with his family while Reese recovered. He stayed in New York until the Twins came there for this four-game series, and when he pitched on Wednesday he brought roughly 60 friends and family members with him.
Justin Morneau hit two homers, drove in three runs and scored three in his return from a second season-ending concussion, so upstaging his night wasn't easy. But Marquis -- and his daughter -- managed to do it.
"Win or lose, I go home, she has a smile on her face; that's the great thing about it," Marquis said. "I don't think they know from winning or losing ... but to see where she is now from where she was a month ago to now is nothing short of amazing. To just be out on that mound, knowing that she's safe, is definitely the place where I wanted to be."