Sloppy Play Costs Yankees Game One

In the postseason, taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you is key. In game one of the ALDS, that's exactly what the Minnesota Twins did, and it's exactly what the New York Yankees didn't do. The Twins took advantage of some sloppy defense on the part of the Yankees to take the first game of the playoffs by a final score of 3-1.

In 1998, when the Yankees were untouchable, they pulled off their "magic" simply by working with what their opponents gave them. If the other team made an error, the Yankees would score. If there was an extra base to be taken, the Yankees would take it. In 2003, these Yankees are the other team, providing the Twins with enough opportunities to win.

Christian Guzman did exactly that when he scored in the third inning. He hit a little nubber to the second base side that Mike Mussina allowed Alfonso Soriano to field. Soriano attempted to bare-hand the ball to get the speedy Guzman, but the ball went past him and Guzman was given a single.

Shannon Stewart then laced a single to shallow left field and Guzman, who was running with the pitch, flew into third base just as Hideki Matsui's throw reached Aaron Boone. The ball beat him, but the umpire called Guzman safe. The shortstop came around to score on Luis Rivas' sacrifice fly to centerfield when Bernie Williams' throw went wide up the first baseline.

With a 1-0 lead, Minnesota starter Johan Santana had a bit of breathing room to work with. But Santana – who was shutting the Yanks down – was forced out of the game after the fourth inning with a cramped right leg, and the Yankees looked like they had been given a gift.

But the Yanks couldn't capitalize on Santana's leaving as Rick Reed, JC Romero and LaTroy Hawkins kept them off the board for the next four innings.

That wasn't all the Yankees failed to capitalize on. They also stranded 10 runners throughout the game and were a terrible 1/9 with runners in scoring position.

Minnesota had no such problems. They opened up the game in the sixth inning against Mussina and the Yankee defense. Matt LeCroy led off the inning with a single and, after Jacque Jones struck out swinging, Torii Hunter laced a line drive into centerfield. Williams went to cut the ball off, but it skipped away from him and went all the way to the wall. As he fielded, LeCroy rounded third and scored and Hunter headed for third.

Soriano received the ball from Williams at second base and fired to third to get Hunter. But the throw went well over Boone's head at third and Hunter scored easily.

The Yankees tried to make something happen in the ninth inning against Eddie Guardado. Williams led off with a single, and Matsui sent a long fly ball to deep left field that Stewart made a spectacular running catch on to rob the Yankees of an extra-base hit. Boone doubled to move Williams to third, but Ruben Sierra flew out for the second out of the inning.

Soriano drove in Williams with an infield single, but Nick Johnson grounded out weakly to third base with the tying run on first base to end the game.

Hawkins (1-0) got the win for the Twins, pitching two innings and allowing just one hit. The reliever struck out four batters in dominating style, including Soriano and Johnson with runners at second and third to end the seventh inning.

Mussina (0-1), the victim of shoddy defense, took the loss for the Yankees. He went seven innings and allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out six batters. Though it could be argued that none of the runs should have been earned.

The Yanks will have a chance to make up for their uninspired play on Thursday at 8:18 pm. Andy Pettitte will bring his 21 wins to the mound to face Minnesota's Brad Radke in a southpaw matchup.

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