MINNEAPOLIS MN - OCTOBER 7: Lance Berkman #17 of the New York Yankees celebrates a solo home run with third base coach Rob Thomson #59 in the fifth inning during game two of the ALDS game against the Minnesota Twins on October 7 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

ALDS Game 2: Lance Berkman, Yankees Mount Late Charge To Put Twins Away

Lance Berkman homered and hit a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning, and Andy Pettitte added another postseason victory to his major league record, as the New York Yankees earned a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins for an imposing 2-0 lead in this American League Division Series. Check out more at Pinstripe Alley and Twinkie Town.

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Lance Berkman Keys Yankees Charge As Twins Fall Behind 2-0 In Series

In the first game of the series, the Twins took an early lead, only to watch it evaporate during a late Yankees rally. In the second game of the series, the exact same pattern played out, as the Yankees stormed ahead in the seventh inning and took a commanding 2-0 lead in their ALDS.

The Twins were able to get ahead in the second inning, when Danny Valencia lifted a sac fly to right field to score Delmon Young. The score held that way into the fourth, when Alex Rodriguez tied things up with a sac fly of his own, scoring Jason Kubel.

Twins starter Carl Pavano was able to escape a jam and limit the damage in that inning, but the Yankees would strike again in the next frame, when Lance Berkman lifted a one-out fly deep to left-center field for a go-ahead solo home run. Berkman, who sat out Game 1 against Francisco Liriano, was inserted as the Yankees' DH for Game 2 against the righty Pavano, and that decision paid dividends for Joe Girardi.

The Yankees continued to take good swings against Pavano, but the score held at 2-1 into the bottom of the sixth, when Orlando Hudson tied it up with a solo home run to left field of Andy Pettitte. That snapped a streak of 12 consecutive retired batters, and Target Field came alive.

But all momentum and energy disappeared in the top of the seventh, when the Yankees struck once more. Lance Berkman delivered an RBI double off the center field wall in a controversial at bat that got Ron Gardenhire ejected for arguing, and two batters later, Derek Jeter dropped an RBI single into right field to make it a 4-2 game and send Pavano to the showers. Jon Rauch was able to work his way out of a bases loaded threat, but the damage had already been done.

From that point, it was up to the Twins to try to come back before Mariano Rivera could be summoned from the Yankee bullpen, but they went down in order in both the seventh - against Pettitte - and the eighth - against Kerry Wood. That took them straight into a Rivera situation, and when the Yankees added an insurance run in the top of the ninth on a Curtis Granderson base hit, hope was lost. Rivera made quick work of the Twins, and fans left Target Field, not knowing if they'd becoming back again in 2010.

The win went to Pettitte, who spun seven terrific innings. The loss went to Pavano, who succeeded early on but struggled to make an adjustment once the Yankees started swinging aggressively early in the count.

The series now shifts to New York, with Game 3 scheduled for 8:30pm ET on Saturday, October 9. Phil Hughes will get the ball for the Yankees, while the Twins will hand it over to Brian Duensing.

(Sports Network event page)

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Twins Vs. Yankees, ALDS Game 2: Curtis Granderson Adds Ninth Inning Insurance Run

When the Yankees are already on top 4-2 in the ninth inning with Mariano Rivera getting loose in the pen, one is free to wonder just how important scoring a fifth run really is, but the Yankees did it anyway. Facing Matt Capps, Brett Gardner led off with a single, moved to second on a grounder, stole third, and then scored on a bloop single by Curtis Granderson to make it a 5-2 game.

Mark Teixeira came up next and hit a towering fly to left field that came up just short of the wall, but there's no need to be greedy. The Yankees will turn a three-run lead over to Rivera, and Minnesota's odds are about as long as they get.

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Twins Vs. Yankees, Game 2: Ron Gardenhire Ejected, Carl Pavano Lifted After Yankees Push Ahead

The Twins and Target Field were all rooting for Carl Pavano to turn in a brisk top of the seventh to carry on the momentum. Instead, the opposite has happened - Pavano ran into trouble, and a makeshift coaching staff has had to call on the bullpen to keep a dangerous situation from exploding.

Pavano walked Jorge Posada to lead off, and he then allowed a deep double to center field off the bat of Lance Berkman to drive in a run. It was a moment not without its controversy, as he threw Berkman a 1-2 fastball that appeared to clip the inside corner of the zone:

Berkmanpitch_medium

Hunter Wendelstedt called it a ball - as he's been doing all game long - and Berkman sent the very next pitch off the fence. It was at that point that Ron Gardenhire came out of the dugout to speak his mind, and within seconds he'd been ejected from the game for arguing an umpire decision, just as Joe Maddon was during a critical inning earlier Thursday afternoon.

After the double and the ejection, Brett Gardner laid down a perfect bunt single, and Derek Jeter followed that by dropping a base hit in front of a diving Jason Kubel in right field to drive in another run. That was enough to spur the Twins to call on some relief, and Pavano handed the ball to Jose Mijares and walked off the field having seen the Yankees go ahead 4-2.

Pavano's day:

6 innings
11 baserunners
1 walk
3 strikeouts
93 pitches

Once the Yankees started taking aggressive swings, Pavano seemed to be on the ropes. The Twins now need to keep the Yankees where they are and mount a comeback off the middle relief before Mariano Rivera comes in for the second night in a row.

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Twins Vs. Yankees, ALDS Game 2: Orlando Hudson Home Run Lifts Twins Into Tie

There's your momentum. With one out in the bottom of the sixth, the normally light-hitting Orlando Hudson got a low-inside curve from Andy Pettitte and ripped it into left field, giving it just enough carry and distance to get over the wall. The solo home run made it a 2-2 ballgame, and though the Twins weren't able to cash in a Delmon Young triple later in the inning, the crowd's back alive.  Hudson gave them a curtain call following his blast, and Target Field only continued to roar.

If Carl Pavano is able to work through the top of the seventh quickly, the stadium may erupt.

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Twins Vs. Yankees, ALDS Game 2: Lance Berkman Goes Deep To Put Yankees In Lead

The beat continues for New York. After Andy Pettitte made quick work of the Twins in the fourth, the Yankees came out swinging aggressively against Carl Pavano again in the fifth, and it's gotten them out in front. Jorge Posada lined out on a first-pitch changeup, but then Lance Berkman got ahead 2-0 and killed a low-away change, sending it deep over the wall in left-center field. The solo shot gave New York its first lead of the game.

The Yankees have taken one called strike since the top of the third.

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Twins Vs. Yankees, ALDS Game 2: Aggressiveness Pays Off For Yankees In Fourth

The third inning went by with a whimper, as six batters hit and six batters walked back to the dugout. In the top of the fourth, the Yankees came alive. For a while, they were taking a passive approach to Carl Pavano. They were just asking Pavano to get ahead in the count by taking first and second pitches. The fourth saw them swing more aggressively, and it paid off.

Curtis Granderson swung at the first strike he saw, and doubled.

Mark Teixeira swung at the first strike he saw, and singled.

Alex Rodriguez swung at the first strike he saw, and lifted an RBI sac fly.

Robinson Cano swung at the first strike he saw, and hit the second for a single off the wall.

Nick Swisher then didn't swing at the first strike he saw, and he grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. A missed opportunity for the Yankees, but they were still able to cash in and tie the game up. We'll see now how Pavano is able to adjust to a lineup that's decided to attack him early in at bats.

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Twins Vs. Yankees, ALDS Game 2: Carl Pavano Bends, Andy Pettitte Breaks

It isn't much, but it's something - the Twins have taken another early lead over the Yankees, scoring a run in the bottom of the second inning. After Carl Pavano put up a zero in the top half, the bottom started with consecutive singles by Delmon Young and Jim Thome off Andy Pettitte. Michael Cuddyer moved them over with a grounder, and after Jason Kubel drew a walk to load the bases, Danny Valencia lifted a fly ball to right that was deep enough to score the first run of the game.

J.J. Hardy lined out to second to end the inning.

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