YANKEES 8, TWINS 4: Kevin Brown returns to form as New York inches closer to another date with Boston.
By Associated Press
Published October 9, 2004
MINNEAPOLIS - Kevin Brown already apologized to the Yankees for his foolish injury. This was an even better way to make up for it.
Backed by Derek Jeter's three RBIs and a relentless offense, Brown threw six strong innings to lead the Yankees past the frustrated Twins 8-4 Friday for a 2-1 lead in the ALDS. New York is one win from a second consecutive ALCS meeting with the rival Red Sox.
"As long as you can keep them from scoring, you know you've done your job for the team," Brown said.
Hoping to save Minnesota's season, ace Johan Santana will start on three days' rest today against Javier Vazquez.
The Yankees, who rallied in the 12th inning to win Game 2 after Torii Hunter's homer put them on the ropes, can eliminate the Twins in four games for the second consecutive season.
If Minnesota wins today, Game 5 is back in the Bronx on Sunday.
"We're packing our suitcases," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Bernie Williams extended a major league record by hitting his 20th postseason homer, a two-run shot off Carlos Silva that put the Yankees up 5-1 in the sixth.
Jeter went 3-for-5 and Hideki Matsui also homered for New York.
The 39-year-old Brown's first season in New York has been tainted by an ailing back and an embarrassing tantrum in which he punched a clubhouse wall and broke his non-throwing hand.
That was Sept. 3, and Brown pitched just twice more after that.
The Yankees were angry about his outburst, but he cleared the air by apologizing a few days later.
And because of his intensity and experience, Brown's teammates were plenty confident when he took the mound for this ultra-important game.
Brown showed no signs of health problems. Against 23 batters, he threw 22 balls and didn't walk anyone. A first-inning home run by Jacque Jones was the only one of eight hits allowed that did any damage.
On offense, the Yankees showed they can do more than hit the long ball.
Jorge Posada, John Olerud, Miguel Cairo, Kenny Lofton and Jeter hit consecutive two-out singles in the second inning, putting the Yankees in front 3-1 and muting the crowd of 54,803.
"A huge sigh of relief, obviously, on my part," Brown said.
Silva failed to get an out in the sixth, allowing 10 hits and six runs.
"Those are the type of hits you've got to get - two-out hits," Jeter said. "Playing on the road, you want to take the crowd out of it."
Jeter bounced a single to center off rookie Jesse Crain with two outs in the sixth to drive in Posada and Olerud, making it 7-1.
Minnesota scored three times in the ninth, but Mariano Rivera got three straight outs after entering with the bases loaded. It was not a save situation for Rivera, who had a rare blown save in Game 2.
The Twins had their chances against Brown, but Michael Cuddyer left four runners on base in his first two at-bats and Jones grounded into a double play in the third.
Then they got desperate in the sixth. Hunter tried to stretch a leadoff double when Matsui fumbled the ball in left, but he was easily thrown out. Corey Koskie ended the inning by getting tagged out at second when he tried to stretch a single to center.
Minnesota didn't give up. Hunter tried to make a running catch of Matsui's homer in the seventh, but the ball popped out when he hit the wall. The ball rolled into the seats as Hunter lay on the warning track in pain. He stayed in the game.