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Harris' value presents itself in ALDS

Harris' value presents itself in ALDS

MINNEAPOLIS -- In a way, Friday's game epitomized the season of Twins infielder Brendan Harris.

Harris wasn't in Minnesota's starting lineup in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against New York, but he came off the bench after third baseman Matt Tolbert left the game with a strained left oblique. During the regular season, Harris was often a replacement at third base when the oft-injured Joe Crede needed time off.

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"I've been in different situations like this," Harris said. "I'm kind of ready for anything. We had Joe Crede and his back trouble. I was in a constant state of DEFCON 3."

Harris again had to be ready off the bench Friday. After entering in the sixth inning, Harris went 2-for-4 with a triple in the sixth off Yankees starter A.J. Burnett that put the Twins up, 1-0. Harris' triple hit high off the wall in left-center, just missing a home run but scoring Delmon Young from second base.

"For whatever reason, that ball wasn't carrying to left-center," Harris said. "I wasn't sitting there watching it. I was running. But it's just one of those where I can't believe it didn't go out."

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Twins at a glance
2009 record: 87-76
2008 record: 88-75
AL Central champs
ALDS matchup:
Twins at Yankees
Postseason tix: Information

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Mahay: First postseason
Gomez: Work in progress
Cabrera: Veteran fire
Mauer: '91 memories

Harris singled in his second at-bat, and he robbed Derek Jeter of a hit when he snared a grounder near third base and threw across to first for the out.

"A lot of times throughout the course of the game, I feel like I'm not that far from getting in there at some point," said Harris, who was in the starting lineup at third base on Sunday for the Twins.

"For him to be ready and come in to get two big hits and a couple defensive plays to keep us in that game was real big," Twins outfielder Denard Span said. "That just shows the character about this team, that we need everybody on this team, even the guys on the bench."

The view from the bench was something Harris had to become accustomed to late in the season. He made 27 starts at shortstop in the month of June and 25 starts in July, but when Minnesota acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera from Oakland at the end of July, Harris' starts at that position disappeared.

Despite his role in part of an infield platoon, Harris still finished the season with 453 plate appearances and ended the regular season with a .261 average while driving in 37 runs.

"He came into the season as a platoon guy, a role guy," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I think you could ask any utility guy, a role guy on your team, 'If you got close to 400 at-bats, would you feel pretty good about it?' And that's what Brendan has got. He hits, he can move around the field and he has done a very good job for us."

"It's not ideal," Michael Cuddyer said. "Obviously, he'd wish to be starting the game. But he still kept his mind ready and his body ready to get put in that position and excel."

While Friday's game was a microcosm of Harris' season, it was also an example of what got the Twins to the postseason. In the final stretch of the season, Minnesota needed contributions from every player on the roster to catch and eventually overtake Detroit in the AL Central.

"That's what winning teams do is they get guys to come in when they're called upon in certain situations," Cuddyer said. "They get those jobs done. Brendan's just another guy that fell in line and did his job."

"The guys on the bench are the ones that helped us win the tiebreaker game," Span said. "Everyone on this team is important."

Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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