(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees try to move to the cusp of another American League Division Series win over the Minnesota Twins this evening when they play Game 2 of the best-of-five set at Target Field.
The Yankees quickly wrestled homefield advantage away from the AL Central champion Twins in Game 1 on Wednesday, as Mark Teixeira's two-run home run in the seventh inning proved to be the game-winner, propelling New York to a 6-4 win.
Curtis Granderson hit a two-run triple while Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano each added an RBI for the Yankees, who come into a quest for their 28th World Series title as the wild card in the American League.
The Yankees are now 10-2 all-time in postseason play against the Twins, including a 6-0 mark in Minneapolis. Of the 60 Division Series that have been played since 1995, the team that won Game 1 went on to win the entire series 43 times.
"That was a big win for us," said New York shortstop Derek Jeter. "We were able to hold them at bay and eventually break through. We grinded out some at- bats and got the big hits when we needed them. Every game is important and winning the first one is a huge boost for us."
CC Sabathia (1-0), who set a career high with 21 wins this season, went six innings in the start and was charged with four runs -- three earned -- on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
"I felt good out there tonight," said Sabathia. "Of course the guys picked me up a bit there and scored some runs to get us back in the game. But it was a good way to start the playoffs."
Mariano Rivera worked the final four outs to record the 40th postseason save of his career.
Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run home run, Danny Valencia drove in a run, and Jim Thome scored twice for the Twins, who were swept by the Yankees in last year's ALDS and have now lost 10 straight playoff games.
Francisco Liriano went 5 2/3 innings in the start and was charged with four runs on six hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. Jesse Crain (0-1) was handed the loss for giving up the home run to Teixeira.
"We had our chances and just couldn't come through," said Cuddyer. "I wish we could have got some more runs for Liriano cause he pitched a great game for us tonight. We just have to come back tomorrow and see if we can't figure things out."
The Twins will now try to become the first team since the 2005 Los Angeles Angels to advance after losing a first-round opener at home. But getting on track tonight may not be that easy, as they face the winningest pitcher in postseason history in left-hander Andy Pettitte.
"Obviously the experience isn't going to help you if you can't find your stuff," said Pettitte. "But just for me, I know emotionally that whatever happens, I am not mentally going to get out of the game. So I think that the experience will be able to help me."
However, Pettitte, who has 18 postseason victories to his credit, enters these playoffs with some questions regarding his health following a two-month stint on the disabled list with a groin injury. Pettitte returned to make three starts at the end of the year, but allowed 10 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings of work.
"I feel good about Andy," Yankee manager Joe Girardi said. "Andy has been here so many times that he makes you feel pretty good."
There is nobody who wants to beat the Yankees more than Twins Game 2 starter Carl Pavano, a whipping boy of the New York media in his four years with the team. Injured for the better part of his run with the Yankees, Pavano was outstanding for Minnesota this season, as he won 17 games to go along with a 3.75 ERA.
Pavano was signed to a four-year, $39.95 million deal by the Yankees in December of 2004, but the right-hander's career in the Bronx never really took off. Injuries limited him to just 26 starts over the course of the contract, 17 of which came in year one, and Pavano finished with a mere 9-8 ledger.
"It's so far in the past," Pavano said. "There are no do-overs. You learn from your mistakes and you move on. You know, I really don't look on it as a bad thing. I'm in a good position now. That's all that really matters."
These teams are certainly no stranger to one another come playoff time, as this is the fourth Division Series matchup in the last eight years between the clubs. The Yankees, though, have won the last seven playoff games between the two.
New York won four of the six regular season matchups between these teams and since 2008, not including their playoff meeting last season, the Yankees have played the Twins 23 times and have gone 17-6 in those encounters.