Heading home down 0-2

blackburn550x275.jpgHaving an off-day between the two games was great for me. I was by myself the whole day. I actually went to lunch with clubhouse manager Rod McCormick, bullpen catcher Nate Damman and bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek. Then I went and walked through Central Park for three hours. I came back and took a two-hour nap before going out for a nice dinner.

It was nice to rest after what we went through this past weekend. It was exhausting. To be able to sleep and get away from baseball, from people, it was nice. I love Central Park. I don’t want to say anything bad about New York, but it’s one of the few things I really enjoy about the city.

You couldn’t sense a huge difference when we arrived at the ballpark on Friday. Because I think we came to the ballpark on Wednesday with energy. It was just that as the game went on that night, we lost it. Today, I think we sustained it. We showed the fire and went out and played well. But we just couldn’t hold them down.

A.J. Burnett is a tough pitcher. He’s got great stuff and he’s made $100 million for a reason. We weren’t discouraged or down when we missed chances early, because Nick Blackburn was pitching so well. He was giving us a chance to stay in the game. We broke through, scored some runs, and obviously we were excited about that.

nathan375x275.jpgWhen the eighth inning was over, we were pretty confident having taken a 3-1 lead. It felt like we were going to get out of here with a split, which is what we wanted anyway. With a two-run lead heading into the ninth, we definitely felt really good about the situation, because we had the best closer in the game on the mound for us. It’s just unfortunate that things like what happened to Joe Nathan have happened to us this year.

Nothing needs to be said in the dugout after that. You know what needs to be done — we have to go out and score. Unfortunately, we didn’t in the 10th, but we were able to get ourselves in another situation to score with the bases loaded and no outs.

Then Joe Mauer hits a fair ball down the line for a ground-rule double and it’s ruled foul. There goes all the breaks.

At the time, we didn’t have any idea in the dugout that Mauer’s ball was fair, because we couldn’t see it. It wasn’t until Nathan and Brian Buscher came out of the clubhouse, saying ‘What’s going on? It was obviously a fair ball.’ We couldn’t tell, and two pitches had gone by after that, so there was nothing we could do about it.

Then the inning didn’t go our way. Delmon Young lines out, hits a bullet right at Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Gomez grounds out and Brendan Harris flies out. It was just a series of unfortunate events.

We head home down 0-2 and on the verge of elimination. But prior to this series, we were in this situation for about six games where if we lost we were done, going back to that last game in Detroit, all the three games against Kansas City and then game No. 163. If we lost any of those games, we were done and wouldn’t be in this situation. We’ve been here before where we had to win. Now we have to win three games in a row.

Ready for a break, searching for a split

CuddyerGetty550x270.jpgObviously you knew when it was all said and done, whoever won Game 163 — fortunately it was us — the celebration would have be short. You wanted to cherish it and you wanted to enjoy it, but at the same time, you knew you had a game 18 or 20 hours away. So we did that. We cherished it, enjoyed it and headed here.

On the plane ride, I think exhaustion took over. It wasn’t all that exciting. It wasn’t loud by any means. Guys were either sleeping or listening to the radio or watching a movie. It wasn’t jovial. I think it would have been a little more exciting if we didn’t’ have to play today.

We didn’t get into New York until very early this morning. I think I got to sleep around 4:30, 4:45 a.m. — somewhere in there. It was a tough turnaround.

CuddyerAP275x370.jpgYou could sense when we got here today that guys were still a little exhausted. I think the adrenaline took us through the first few innings, but after that, the past four days or so kind of took its toll on us. But we put ourselves in that position having to play that last game. So you take it and can’t use it as an excuse. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win tonight, but we’re going to recharge tomorrow, and hopefully Friday, we’ll come out with a little more life.

Taking the early lead was a good start to the night for us. I was on the bases and didn’t get to experience much of the excitement in the dugout after we scored that first run. But once the passed ball came and Joe Mauer scored, we felt good about the lead. But you know you’re not going to shut down the Yankees. You know you are not going to win 2-0, 1-0 or anything like that. You know that’s just not going to happen with that team. So you have to continue to put pressure on them.

They came out and Jeter’s home run answered right away for them. It was big for them to come out and hit a big two-run homer just after we scored two runs. In my opinion, that was probably the turning point of the game. Because we couldn’t put the throttle down again after that.

The off-day will be huge for us. Just to rest, more mentally than physically. I think we are all more emotionally drained right now. Physically, you are going to be tired. There are lots of points during the season where you are going to be tired, but to go through those five, six, seven or eight games that we just went through — the emotional roller coaster and mental drain — that’s where we need the break. So that’s going to be really nice day off. Let your mind ease.

For the last month, all we heard about was how we couldn’t get back
into the position to win the division, how the Tigers were going to run
away with it and how the nail was in the coffin about 10 times. But we
still found a way to get it done. So to all the naysayers, we just
don’t listen. We just try to get it done. Here we are down 1-0, but they
still have to win two games.

What you ask for when you come in to Yankee Stadium in the postseason
is to leave with a split. Obviously to go up 2-0 would have been a
bonus, but
you want to leave with a split. And that’s what we’ll try to do Friday.
We want to take it back to our house with a good chance, and we still
have that opportunity.