Unlikely scenario

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

This is October baseball?

Tanyon Sturtze wearing legendary Yankee pin stripes and Jim Bouton's old number 56, pitching with the game on the line?

Pat Borders, 41, catching the final five innings for the Minnesota Twins and hitting in the 11th with a man on second?

Sturtze pitched for the Jays in 2003 and was a heralded arrival to the rotation. He lasted eight starts before being shunted to the bullpen. In all, he allowed 157 base runners in 89 1/3 innings.

Borders, who hasn't had 100 hits in the majors since 1993, struck out to end the Twins' 11-inning threat.

Conclusion No. 1: there aren't any perfect teams.

Second conclusion: this was a hell of a game.

The Twins score in the top of the 11th on Torii Hunter's two out homer and the Yanks came back with two in the bottom half as Alex Rodriguez plated the first of back-to-back walks with a ground-rule double and Hideki Matsui hit a fly ball.

The Yankees have been down this road being down 1-0 in the series.

A year ago, they lost the opener of the best-of-five, American League division series to the Twins 3-1.

No problem. Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and David Wells each pitched seven innings in successive games as the Yanks won three straight to advance. Pettitte, their Game 2 cure-all a year ago and Clemens were in Atlanta as the Houston Astros played the Atlanta Braves.

And Wells? We hazard to guess the whereabouts Wells.

Why this October is different is the fact manager Joe Torre didn't name Kevin Brown his Game 3 starter until last night, as if he was putting off that trip to the dentist's office or paying an alimony cheque.

Starting pitching for the Yanks in October used to be as set as A-B-C, instead they have a lot of X's -- as in the unknown.

Torre had to decide on the health of Orlando Hernandez, who threw a bullpen session last night, Javier Vazquez and Brown. Hernandez has a weakened right shoulder, Vazquez weakened confidence.

What's also different is that the Twins have Johan Santana waiting to work again -- after throwing only 93 pitches in Game 1 -- maybe in Game 4, maybe in Game 5. Santana pitched seven scoreless despite location problems in Game 1.

"We can use a Santana twice, that's not a bad situation," Ron Gardenhire said.

This was a must win for the Yanks and despite going hitless from one out in the seventh under Rodriguez's one-out double in the 12th.

"This was as memorable our Game 7 win against the BostonRed Sox a year ago, because the lead kept going back and forth," Torre said. "That might be the biggest hit in Alex Rodriguez's life."

Brown has something to make up for after punching a clubhouse wall on Sept. 3 and breaking his right hand. Brown missed three weeks before returning for a start at Fenway Park on Sept. 26. He was touched for four runs in 2/3 of an inning due to back problems. He followed that up with five innings allowing one hit against the Jays Oct. 2.

"We were angry for a short period of time," Torre said, "Kevin talked to the club a few days later. Again, they dismiss it. Just like the loss, you just dismiss it."

Brown will be making his 12th post-season outing, he is 4-4 with a 3.61 ERA in his post season.

Brown hopes to show the Yanks the light at end of the tunnel.

Now, the series moves on to Minneapolis. The Yanks hope they can bring the series back to the Bronx.


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