Berkman goes yard, Yankees lead Twins in Game 2

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The Yankees and Twins are five innings deep into Game 2 of their ALDS matchup Thursday at Minnesota’s Target Field.  So far, things are looking good for the away team.

Andy Pettitte had a rough second inning that saw him load the bases and then allow a run-scoring sacrifice fly to the Twins’ Danny Valencia.  But he has since settled in and retired 12 straight batters.

Meanwhile Lance Berkman has improved his reputation among Yankees fans with a solo bomb to deep left-center field that put the away team up 2-1.  Berkman batted just .255/.358/.349 over 106 at-bats after arriving in New York at this year’s trade deadline.  A productive showing this postseason, of course, will make everyone forget about those struggles. 

Twins starter Carl Pavano has pitched well, but the Yanks tend to take advantage of mistakes and the mustached right-hander has made one or two of those against his former team.

It was 73 degrees at game time in Minneapolis, yet another gorgeous night for baseball.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.