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Easy as pie: Yanks mastering walk-off

Easy as pie: Yanks mastering walk-off

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NEW YORK -- In the span of three days this summer, Yankees starter and part-time dessert chef A.J. Burnett had the luxury of smashing pies in the faces of Melky Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon. All three delivered walk-off hits. And all three did so against the Twins.

The two clubs parted ways after that, the Twins heading back to Minnesota to make a miraculous late run to the postseason, the Yankees spending the next four months delivering walk-off after walk-off at their cushy new stadium. Among Yankees regulars, only Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira managed to avoid Burnett's regular-season whipped-cream wrath.

Finally, Jeter came up to the plate in the 10th inning on Friday with a chance to win Game 2 of the American League Division Series, giving Burnett hope that he would finally "get the captain." But Twins closer Joe Nathan intentionally walked Jeter and escaped from that jam, leading to a rather dramatic finish and a 4-3 win in the 11th.

Division Series
Gm. 1NYY 7, MIN 2WrapVideo
Gm. 2NYY 4, MIN 3 (11)WrapVideo
Gm. 3NYY 4, MIN 1WrapVideo

"We were able to get Tex," Burnett grinned, moments after Teixeira launched a walk-off homer over the left-field wall.

And with that hit, the Yankees walked off against the Twins yet again, the fourth time they have done so this season.

In what appeared at the time to be a crushing four-game sweep of the Twins back in May, three Yankees delivered walk-off hits on consecutive days. First it was Cabrera, who stunned the Twins with a two-out, two-run single, leading New York to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory on May 15. Brett Gardner sparked the winning rally with a triple off Twins closer Joe Nathan, before Teixeira singled, Rodriguez walked and Cabrera sent a packed crowd home happy.

Bronx big shots
Mark Teixeira hit the 11th walk-off homer in Yankees postseason history
Series Player Pitcher Opp.
'09 ALDS M. Teixeira J. Mijares MIN
'03 ALCS A. Boone T. Wakefield BOS
'01 WS D. Jeter B.H. Kim ARI
'01 ALCS A. Soriano K. Sasaki SEA
'99 WS C. Curtis M. Remlinger ATL
'99 ALCS B. Williams R. Beck BOS
'96 ALDS B. Williams R. Myers BAL
'95 ALDS J. Leyritz T. Belcher SEA
'76 ALCS C. Chambliss M. Littell KC
'64 WS M. Mantle B. Shultze STL
'49 WS T. Henrich D. Newcombe BRO

Next up was Rodriguez, who slammed a Craig Breslow slider well over the left-field fence in the 11th inning of the following day's game, leading the Yankees to a 6-4 win on May 16.

"He's one of the few guys who have the ability to do this fairly often," manager Joe Girardi said that day of Rodriguez, who homered off Nathan in the ninth inning on Friday to make Teixeira's walk-off shot possible. "Not everybody can hit a ball 500 feet, but he has the ability at any time."

Perhaps feeling left out, Damon continued the walk-off trend the following day, launching yet another homer to give the Yankees a 3-2 victory in 10 innings over the Twins on May 17.

Those three hits marked the first time the Yankees had walked off in three straight games since doing so Aug. 27-29, 1972.

"With the way we've been doing things this year with all the walk-off hits, it's almost like you expect it," said reliever Phil Hughes, who would have been Friday's losing pitcher if not for his team's comeback effort. "We're spoiled."

The Yankees finished the regular season with 15 walk-off victories, their highest total since they set a franchise record with 17 back in 1943. And it has not grown old.

The Yankees also finished the regular season 7-0 against the Twins, thanks in large part to those walk-offs. Now, with two games of the Division Series complete, they have extended that mark to 9-0.

Burnett will not be bringing his stock of whipped cream with him to the Metrodome, where the Twins will have last licks and the Yanks cannot walk off. But his teammates will be bringing with them all the buoyancy of this latest walk-off win, which they hope will translate into one more victory in Minnesota.

"Obviously," Burnett said, "the walk-off definitely keeps our spirits way high."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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