Red Sox on the brink as Yankees, Angels take 2-0 lead
The New York Yankees rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins and take a commanding 2-0 lead in their series, while a second win for the LA Angels in the other American League playoff left the Boston Red Sox staring at an early exit.
AFP - Yankees' Mark Teixeira capped a rally with a walk-off homer and the Angels rode pitching ace Jered Weaver as New York and Los Angeles seized control in their first round AL playoff series on Friday.
Teixeira belted a game-clinching home run in the 11th inning to lift the Yankees to a 4-3 win over Minnesota in the second game of their best-of-five series.
In the other AL postseason game Friday, Weaver was dominant through 7 1/3 innings as the Angels defeated Boston 4-1 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their series.
Alex Rodriguez set the stage with a two-run ninth-inning homer as the Yankees rallied for the victory and a 2-0 lead.
Teixeira's liner off Jose Mijares hit the top of the left-field wall and bounced into the crowd, sparking a wild celebration in the stands and on the field.
"I got lucky enough to hit a wall scraper," Teixeira said. "There isn't anything better. I got chills right now. This is a good day."
Teixeira was mobbed by his Yankee teammates as he crossed home plate.
The Yankees can clinch the series with a win in game three Sunday in Minnesota.
It marked the first game-ending post-season home run for New York since Aaron Boone hit a leadoff homer in the 11th inning to end game seven of the American League championship series against Boston six years ago.
The Yankees had 15 walk-off wins in the 2009 regular season.
"I hit it hard, but there was so much top spin I thought there was no chance it was going to get out," Teixeira said. "I was running hard, making sure I got two. Then the crowd started going nuts. I figured it was a home run."
Rodriguez's game-tying home run came off Twins' closer Joe Nathan. He finished two-for-four with three runs batted in for the Yankees, who are looking to win their first playoff series since 2004. They beat Minnesota in four games that year.
"We have a great team and we came out ready to play," Rodriguez said. "Tonight we tried to do too much early on and then we relaxed and started hitting the ball a bit better."
Minnesota had chances to win but they left three men on base in the 11th inning.
Yankee pitcher David Robertson got the win for getting out of a jam in the top of the 11th. Mijares took the loss for Minnesota.
Michael Cuddyer had three hits, while Brendan Harris went two-for-four with an RBI triple for the Twins, who couldn't advance their baserunners on Friday. The Twins were five-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
"It's really disappointing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I've been walked off enough times here. Some of the things that happened out there were pretty disappointing. Pretty good too. It was a good baseball game."
The Angels will go for a sweep in their series in game three Sunday at Fenway Park.
Boston has beaten the Angels in the AL divsion series in 2008, 2007 and 2004.
Weaver's performance was the second-straight superb game by a Los Angeles pitcher as John Lackey threw just over seven innings of shutout ball in a 5-0 win on Thursday.
He earned his first postseason win as a starter in his third playoff appearance.
"Anytime you can keep (Boston) off the bases and score some runs against (Josh) Beckett, your team is doing a good job," Weaver said.
"I was very locked into Lackey last night and used some of the things I learned tonight. For the most part, everything I threw was working."
Weaver struck out seven and had just two walks for the Angels who won the first two games of a playoff series for just the second time in franchise history.
They also won the first two 17 years ago against Milwaukee before the Brewers won three straight to take the best-of-five series.
"We certainly are aware of the challenge ahead of us, even after tonight's ball game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"There's one thing that gives you command of the series, and that's when you win the third game in a five-game series, and that's what we're going to focus on trying to get done on Sunday."
Erick Aybar hit a two-run triple in the seventh to cap a two-out three run rally by the Angels.
Brian Fuentes registered his first career playoff save.
Pitcher Beckett, the 2003 World Series MVP, took the loss for Boston. He allowed five hits, four runs and had a walk in 6 2/3 innings of work.
It was the first post-season loss for Beckett with the Red Sox.
"We had a tough time the last two games swinging the bat," Boston manager Terry Francona said.