With a final score of 6-4, the Twins opened the playoffs last night in a familiar way -- with a loss to the Yankees. It was the Twins' 10th straight loss in the playoffs.
On a perfect night for outdoor baseball, the Twins drew a new record crowd to their new ballpark but couldn't deliver a win.
First baseman Michael Cuddyer put the Twins ahead 2-0 in the second inning with a long home run to centerfield, and pitcher Francisco Liriano sailed through the first five innings of his first-ever post-season start.
The problem was the sixth inning, when the Yankees rallied with four runs, capped by a two-run triple from Curtis Granderson. Liriano came out of the game after that hit, and manager Ron Gardenhire defended his decision to let Liriano pitch to Granderson.
"You take your starter out in that situation, that's not the right thing to do," Gardenhire said. "We were trying to let him get through it, and I had all the confidence in the world he'd get Granderson out. That's his ballgame; he was pitching well."
The Twins tied the game at four a half-inning later, but Yankees first baseman Mark Texeira smashed a towering two-run homer off reliever Jesse Crain in the top of the seventh inning, a shot that proved to be the game-winner.
"Playoffs, it's not about quantity, it's really quality," Texeira said. "You just want to get big hits. Everyone talks about hitting with runners in scoring position, home runs are big -- and hopefully I can continue to do that."
That part about runners in scoring position was especially hard for the Twins -- they were 0-for-7 in that situation last night. They threatened in the seventh and eighth innings, putting two runners on base in each. But they couldn't produce any runs.
As the Yankees recorded the final out of the night, the mass of retreating Twins fans included Craig Hassell of St. Paul.
"It's always good to win the first game; gets you the leg up on the series and you keep home-field advantage," Hassell said. "We lose this one and the Yankees have home-field advantage again."
The Twins and Yankees have now played each other 12 times in the playoffs -- New York has won 10 of those games. The Yanks are hoping to win their first-ever postseason series as a wild card team.
But First baseman Michael Cuddyer said there's no reason the Twins can't come back.
"It's one game, there's no panic by any means," Cuddyer said. "Gardy doesn't have to tell us that, that there's no panic. We've got to come out tomorrow and try to worry about winning that game."
Game two starts tonight at 5:07. The Twins will send Carl Pavano to the mound against another Yankee southpaw, Andy Pettite.