Twins to host the Yankees in ALDS
Finally, we know. In a rematch of last year's American League Divisional Series, the Central champion Twins will host the AL Wild Card New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.
Although the Twins led in each of last season's playoff games against New York, the Pinstripes ultimately swept the Twins en route to their 27th World Series title.
Let's collectively hope that the Twins' 2010 fates mirror neither '09's playoff result, nor their slouch to the finish line this season.
There are approximately 100 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne, and the Twins seemingly took time to closely inspect each damn one of them after popping the corks on their Central Division title, clinched back on September 21st. Since felling the lowly Indians with a 5-1 win the afternoon ensuing the clinch, the Twins have offered little to toast, with a sloppy 2-8 finish to close out the final 10 games of the season. The apathy actually slumped in pace with their competitors for the A.L.'s top record, as both the Yanks (2-8 in last 10) and Rays (5-5 in last 10) also finished their own respective campaigns with more flop than fury. The slide isn't newfound for New York; since the onset of August they're a mere 29-30.
After the close of the past two seasons in which I've had the pleasure of covering back-to-back Game No. 163's, it feels strange to be writing in this tone, especially given the general excellent of the Twins inaugural season at Target Field. But truly, I'm not concerned about the letdown of the past ten days as the club worked through some minor injuries and rarely offered the "A" lineup that we'll now revisit this week.
So bring on the Yanks and let's get cooking.
Please note that extended coverage can be found herein throughout the Twins playoff run, with daily posting of analysis, recaps, opinion and (hopefully) reason to celebrate the Twins return to the ALCS for the first time since 2002.
Here's some juice to get these playoffs going:
A brief history:
With skippers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Cito Gaston stepping away from their respective posts, Ron Gardenhire owns the 9th most regular season wins among active managers, with 803. But of course, said success hasn't extended to the postseason, where Gardy is a mere 6-18. After felling the A's (3-2) in the ALDS of his rookie skip season of 2002, the Twins manager is a mere 3-16 since, having lost five straight playoff series. Since beating the Yanks in Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS, the Twins have lost nine consecutive postseason contests.
The Boys will look to change course this week.
Prior to last year's depressing ALDS sweepage, the Twins lost all seven of their '09 regular season games against the Yankees. Adding this season's May 14th and 15th losses to the mess found the Twins with a dirty dozen straight defeats to New York, a sad stretch that finally ended with the exclamation of Jason Kubel's May 16th grand slam off luminary Yankee stopper, Mariano Rivera.
Later in that same month, New York made their Target Field debut with two one-run wins
before the Twins saved face in that set with an 8-2 victory on May 27th. The two clubs haven't met since. New York finished the season at 95-67; the Twins finished at 94-68.
Struggling with the Yanks is nothing new. Prior to last season, New York also knocked our Boys from the postseason in the respective ALDS' of 2003 and 2004. The Twins haven't had a winning season against the Yankees since taking four of six regular season games from them back in 2001.
ALDS schedule, Times, dates, TC coverage:
Game 1, Target Field - Wednesday, October 6th, 7:37 p.m. Central on TBS
Game 2 - Target Field - Thursday, October 7th, 5:07 p.m. Central on TBS
Game 3, Yankee Stadium II - Saturday, October 9th, 7:37 p.m. Central on TBS
Game 4 (if necessary), Yankee Stadium II - Sunday, October 10th, TBD
Game 5 (if necessary) Target Field - Tuesday, October 12th, TBD
Probable starting pitchers:
Game 1- Francisco Liriano (LHP, 14-10, 3.62 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (LHP, 21-7, 3.18)
Game 2- Carl Pavano (RHP, 17-11, 3.75) vs. *Andy Pettitte (LHP, 11-3, 3.28)
Game 3- Brian Duensing (LHP, 10-3, 2.62) vs. TBD
Game 4-(if necessary)-Nick Blackburn (RHP, 10-12, 5.42) vs. A.J. Burnett (RHP, 10-15,5.26)
Game 5- (if necessary) TBD vs. TBD
*Not yet confirmed
Conditions look to be idyllic in Minneapolis this week, with the forecast calling for highs of 71
degrees on Wednesday and 67 degrees on Thursday. Both temps are higher than the historical mean for each day and, at present, there a zero percent chance for precipitation on both days. Game time temperatures will drop by about five degrees or so from the daytime high.
After a smashing regular season debut that found the Twins' new home being named the country's top stadium experience by ESPN the Mag before landing the cover of Sports Illustrated last month, Target Field now gets a shot a starring in the postseason. The Twins performed with aplomb in their new digs this year, etching a stellar 53-28 home record, good for third-best in all of baseball.
Of the 30 current MLB ballparks, there have been eight seasons of playoff debuts for a team's first year in a new stadium. Before St. Louis (2006) and the Yankees (2009) christened their respective homes with a World championship, it had been nearly 100 years since the feat was accomplished by the Red Sox back in 1912.
Target Field has fast gained a rep as a pitcher's park, charting in the lower half of the league's "Park Factors" in both runs and home runs. By contrast, Yankee Stadium ranks in baseball's top three parks in both of said categories.
Along with expanded coverage herein, track the conversation, stats, updates and outcomes of the Twins postseason via our C.P. Twitter account. Follow today and receive a (dated) pouch of Red Man chewing tobacco to gnaw during the playoffs!
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