Contemplating The Yanks
This weekend, the Twins will head to Yankee Stadium in New York for three games with their own particular version of kryptonite: the Yankees.
There is a particular amount of buzz about this series in the Twins Cities area right now (whether suffocating or stimulating is up for interpretation), primarily due to the Twins’ hot start and the potential to erase a few past demons. Basically, we haven’t been able to do squat against the Yankees since, ironically enough, we started winning on a consitent basis back in 2002. However, here is the reason why I finally see the Twins turning things around…starting tomorrow night:
To me, the difference between the Twins and the Yankees has always been a deep bench. Whether Joe Torre or Joe Girardi, in late-inning situations there’s also a big bat coming off the bench that can wreak havoc. The best example of this was in the ’04 ALDS, when Ruben Sierra came off their bench as opposed to Michael Ryan off ours. Ouch.
The picture above more accurately represents our bench (in past years) in a time of need. Gardy scans the length of the dugout and finds such guys as Brian Buscher, Ryan, Nick Punto, or Matt Tolbert to try and create runs off of Joba Chamberlain or Mariano Rivera. Not likely.
However, this year we have both the lineup depth AND the pitching to keep pace with the mighty Yankees. They may still outpace us in top-tier (Sabathia, Burnett, A-Rod, Jeter, etc.) talent, but we now have the bats to hang with them even into the late innings.
Plus, remember this…
In 2003, we took the first game at Yankee stadium before collapsing. In ’04, we took the first and almost had the second if not for a Nathan blown save. Last year, we played them toughed in nearly every regular season game (a lot of walk-off wins for them), and had a chance to win all three of those playoffs games if we could have gotten some clutch hits.
Could this be the start of a new era for the Twins (competing with the big boys)? This weekend provides the first test.