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ALDS Game 3: Familiar Faces

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The Carl Pavano saga was a gut-wrencher because I thought he was a great signing. He was just entering his prime when he signed with the Yankees, and he was going to partner with the veteran aces Mussina, Randy and Kevin Brown to lead the Yankees to the playoffs. He turned down more money from the Red Sox and the Reds because he wanted to be a Yankee.

It was a great story.

He had a shoulder injury in 2005, and while it was a blow to our season, with the emergence of Chien Ming Wang I figured 2006 would be a year of destiny.

And it was, but not the way I wanted: Pavano bruised his ass in Spring Training and then just disappeared into the land of rehab. When he was nearly ready to return he crashed his car and broke a couple ribs.

He came back to 2007 seeming ready to repair his image. He struggled through Spring Training, but as other starters came up lame, he became the Opening Day starter. Then he hit the DL with an elbow strain and went to see Dr. Andrews. What followed was either a look inside the mind of a man unwilling to be part of the clubhouse, or it was a smear campaign by the Yankees. An anonymous Yankee official leaked that Pavano's ligament wasn't torn and that he could return with just rehab. Pavano wanted surgery.

He came back from TJ in 34 meaningless innings at the end of 2008, and the audition landed him a spot in Cleveland. He was traded to the Twins, and he's led them to the playoffs.

But this game is about Andy Pettitte, too. The man there was nearly no room for following the Yankees' offseason spending spree. He signed an incentive laden deal that started at $5.5M and has ballooned to $10.5M because he stayed on the mound all season.

2009 is only the third time in his career that he has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched, and if he doesn't pull a Moose and retire on a high note, the Yankees will have a decision to make in November.

First things first, our lefty has to rein in the presumptive MVP, who is still the best hitter in the AL even when he's aching. The Twins are a great team, ranking 4th in the league in runs differential and runs scored. Andy will have to continue CC and AJ's dominance (12.2IP, 2 ER) for the Yankees to move on.

So now Pavano will face his old team, most of the whom were part of the crew that papered his locker back in 2006. These were the guys that Mussina spoke for when he said Pavano had to prove he wanted to be there. These are the guys who are going to be patient and grind Pavano down until he wishes he were back on the DL.

It's time to close the MetroDome.


Lineup

New York Yankees @ Minnesota Twins

10/11/09 7:07 PM EDT

New York Yankees Minnesota Twins
Derek Jeter - SS Denard Span - CF
Johnny Damon - LF Orlando Cabrera - SS
Mark Teixeira - 1B Joe Mauer - C
Alex Rodriguez - 3B Michael Cuddyer - 1B
Hideki Matsui - DH Jason Kubel - RF
Jorge Posada - C Delmon Young - LF
Robinson Cano - 2B Brendan Harris - 3B
Nick Swisher - RF Jose Morales - DH
Melky Cabrera - CF Nick Punto - 2B