Results tagged ‘ Yankees ’
Well, here it is, the night before the playoff ALDS opener against the New York Yankees at Target Field. Here are my “x-factors” for this series:
The first two starters…
Both these two starters are renowned Twins-killers, capable of shutting down even our most potent bats for inning after inning. To me, just splitting (even at home) with these guys on the mound would be the best we could hope for, as I’m confident that Duensing will beat Hughes in the Bronx for Game 3. However, two straight losses would pretty much doom us.
For the Twins:
The big righthanded bat…
In previous years, the Twins have never had that powerful righthanded bat in the lineup to counter-act a tough lefty on the mound. Delmon Young changes the equation.
Also, though I won’t necessarily say this is a prediction, but I think Ron Gardenhire gives the Twins a big edge…
Not saying that Joe Girardi isn’t a quality manager as well, but you know that Gardy will have our boys ready to go for every game. Plus, this year he has some “bullets in the chamber” instead of blanks to match up with the Yanks’ firepower.
I’m too superstitious to make a prediction on this series due to the fact that my home team is in it, so about all that’s left to say is this:
Preview: C.C. Sabathia (0-0, 0.00) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-0, 0.00). The slate is wiped clean in the postseason!
Last year ended (at least the regular season) about as exciting as a Twins season has ever come to a close (see above).
This year obviously felt a little different. For most of today’s regular season finale against the Toronto Blue Jays, the 3-4-5 batters were: Drew Butera, Ben Revere, and Trevor Plouffe.
This occured due to the Twins trying to rest guys for the playoffs, but it was still a bit disconcerting to see the team lose so many games after clinching. I’m not too worried, though, for this reason:
Last year in the ALDS against the Yankees, the Twins Brendan Harris, Nick Punto, and Matt Tolbert in the starting lineup. No such thing will happen this year, as those guys are replaced (respectively) by Jim Thome, Orlando Hudson, and Danny Valencia.
We know that our first-round opponent this year will again be the Yankees, but I’ll have more on that matchup in a later post.
Final AL Central Standings:
|Chi White Sox||88||-74||6.0|
If the Twins were to start Alexi Casilla at second base (or SS for that matter) on a regular basis, he would hit .250 with no power, strike out often, and make enough bonehead plays (both in the field and on the basepaths) to send Gardy to an early grave.
However, put him in a late-season pressure-cooker situation, and the results speak for themselves:
For a team looking for a spark going forward into the playoffs, this could be it!
-Still don’t know our first-round opponent. Tampa Bay holds the tiebreaker over New York, so (with both teams tied heading into the regular season’s final day) a TB win would automatically give us the Yanks.
Preview (94-67, 1st, 7 GA CWS): Marc Rzepczynski (3-4, 5.56) vs. Nick Blackburn (10-11, 5.55)
It wasn’t pretty, but the Twins were able to “git ‘er done” this weekend against the Indians. It took us over 18 innings to get the first run of the series, and we scored in only two innings the entire series, but still managed to take the series thanks to some great starting pitching
Now, the last series against the White Sox looms at the Cell starting Tuesday. We can effectively put them away by winning the series, or they (a very streaky team to begin with) can gain momentum.
-Unbelievable…we’re only two games behind the Yankees for best record in the American League, and thus locking up home field advantage for the playoffs. With the amount of times the Yanks and Rays still play each other down the stretch, if the Twins keep putting up “W’s” we could sneak through as the #1 seed!
Preview (85-58, 1st, 6.0 GA CWS): Francisco Liriano (13-7, 3.24) vs. John Danks (13-10, 3.54).
Whew…the Twins managed to avoid a sweep today at the hands of the Tigers thanks to another solid outing from Carl Pavano and some much-needed clutch hitting (that didn’t produce too many double plays).
With pretty much the entire rotation struggling at this point, Pavano took the rotation on his back and turned in 7.2 IP while allowing just three earned runs. Heck, he even managed to keep Miguel Cabrera from completely destroying us!
Multi-hit games from Young, Cuddyer (who is finally starting to hit the ball again), and Kubel allowed the M&M-less offense to come out on top.
This was a big win for the Twins, as heading into the break three games back is much better (if only psychologically) than five.
-Justin Morneau, due to his lingering concussion symptoms, will not start in the All-Star game (or play whatsoever) on Tuesday night. Cabrera will start the game, while Paul Konerko of the White Sox has been added to the roster.
-Sad news today in hearing that longtime Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard passed away today. I know that he hadn’t been doing the PA for a few years now, but his recorded broadcast still introduces Derek Jeter to this day. Younger fans may not remember the name, but the voice will likely be familiar.
Preview: Home-Run Derby! Here are this year’s participants:
National League: Chris Young (Diamondbacks), Corey Hart (Brewers), Matt Holliday (Cardinals), Hanley Ramirez (Marlins)
American League: David Ortiz (Red Sox), Nick Swisher (Yankees), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Vernon Wells (Blue Jays)
Well, if the current trade buzz is accurate (and it probably is, as when the Yankees want a guy they usually get him), those two guys could be teammates in pinstripes in a few short weeks or days.
Most hard-core Twins fans should be about drowned in their soup over that news, as a Lee-Sabathia-Pettite rotation would be nearly unstoppable, but perhaps all is not yet lost.
A few weeks ago, Houston Astro Roy Oswalt announced his desire to be traded from the pathetic ‘Stros:
Just a few years ago, this guy was considered one of the top three pitchers in the National League, until injuries and pathetic team play dropped him down a notch. He’s healthy now, though, and putting together a solid season on the mound.
I actually like his case better than Cliff Lee’s, because likely we wouldn’t have to give up BOTH Ramos and Hicks to obtain him, and we might even have a chance to sign him next year (he might not just be a rent-a-player).
So, if the Yanks do jump off the Cliff, perhaps we can still land a solid starter in his abscence.
Last night, the Minnesota Twins look for all the world to be headed to another disappointing loss on the road. Down 5-2 after five innings, Carl Pavano was getting beat by the long ball and the bats weren’t doing much of anything (besides grounding to Lyle Overbay, that is).
However, that is when the bats started to heat up:
Not only did it take back-to-back jacks from Morneau and Kubel to jump back into the game, but big hits were also needed from Mauer (dinger), and doubles by Thome and Delmon Young (who finished the game 3-3) since the pen kept serving up the meatballs.
As much as everyone is worried about the Twins right now, I think that our hitting is what it is and we aren’t going to change anything. If we continue to trot out a Span-O-Dawg-Mauer-Morneau-Cuddy-Kubes-Big D-Big Jim-JJ lineup, we’ll score runs:
If it doesn’t, then we probably just don’t deserve to make the playoffs anyway, so why worry? Thus, are biggest area of improvement will be pitching. Cliff Lee would be huge, but enough so to mortage away guys like Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks? At this point, I would have to say yes. With that kind of potent lineup day in and day out, we may actually have a chance to take on the mighty Yanks in the playoffs this year (one always has to assume that the AL road to the World Series runs through the Big Apple), but not without a few pitchers to hold back their firepower. Sending Lee, Liriano, and Pavano/Slowey/Baker/Blackie to the mound would give as at least a fair shake against their big bats, I think, though of course nothing is guaranteed.
Another key…more pictures like this:
-Too bad Delmon Young won’t win the Final Vote balloting, but Kevin Youkilis probably deserves it. Just as long as Swish doesn’t make it…man I hate that guy!
Preview (45-38, 2nd, 0.5 GB DET): Kevin Slowey (8-5, 4.57) vs. Marc Rzepczynski (0-0, 0.00). The Tigers needed some late-inning heroics to preserve their division lead last night, so let’s keep the pressure on. I don’t want to be two games back heading into Comerica this weekend.
Before 2004, the year in which a staggering chain of events (begun with this)…
…released the Boston Red Sox from their Yankee-dominant purgatory, the Sox were seemingly “cursed” by the inability to: A. Win the big game; and B. Win ANY meaningful game against the arch-rival Yankees.
After watching (in person) the Twins fall twice to the Yanks in one day today at Target Field, I now have my own little theory as to where that curse went and where it is dwelling now…
In both 2003 and 2004…
…the Yankees defeated the Twins in the ALDS. From that point forward, we haven’t been able to touch them. At home, we are something like 10 games under .500 against them in the Ron Gardenhire era. On the road, we have won (literally) a handful of games in that same time period. Plus, the 2009 playoffs brought another ALDS defeat at their hands, this time a clean sweep.
Could it be possible that the Red Sox, free from the “1918” chants, somehow transferred the curse to us, seeing as it was us who allowed the epic 2003 and 2004 ALCS’ to transpire in the first place?
Today, the Yankee heroes were primarily three-fold:
First, Derek Jeter provided the lone offense in the resumption game today, then proceeded to make a spectacular “jump-throw” (his trademark) to gun down a runner at first that, if safe, would have allowed the tying run to score.
Then, Pettitte again basically shut us down for eight innings, only allowing two measly runs.
Finally, the back-breaker came from Nick Swisher, who launched a bomb into the right field bleachers in the bottom of the eighth inning (with two outs, of course) off Jon Rauch to give the visitors a lead they would not relinquish.
Let’s just say this: Remember those old “whose your Daddy” chants that Yankees fans used to hurl at Pedro Martinez? They now apply for a completely different reason.
Preview (26-20, 1st, 1.0 GA DET): Javier Vazquez (3-4, 6.69) vs. Nick Blackburn (5-1, 4.50)
For far too many years, Yankee closer Mariano “Mo” Rivera has done the baseball equivalent of this video to American League batters…
That video could also be a metaphor of the Yankees’ dominance over the Twins in the Bronx since the Ron Gardenhire Era. The Twins may put up a fight, but it was always the Yankees who got the final “slap”.
Does this game signify a major shift in the rivalry? Who can know. Will the Yankees start another streak just as long the next time we come to the Big Apple? Hopefully not, but perhaps. For today, though, we finally got to celebrate in the nextdoor neighbor to the House That Ruth Built. It feels good.
In not too long, the Yanks will have to come into our house:
…where hopefully we can start our own little Yankee-killing streak in the heart of Twins Territory.
Preview (23-14, 1st, 1.5 GA DET): Kevin Slowey (4-3, 4.62) vs. Dana Eveland (3-2, 4.81). Off to Toronto now, who have really had our number the past two seasons.
Why the retro pics? Well, the last time the Twins defeated Andy Pettitte, the date was April 30, the year was 2001, Brad Radke pitched a complete game to run his record to 5-0, and Doug Mientkiewicz went 2-3 with a homer to up his average to .380 on the season. Radke is now long since retired and Minty is a 35 year old glove/walk machine. That should tell you all you need to know about today’s lopsided affair.
Basically, Pettitte shut us down once again, and while Liriano pitched well enough to keep us in the game, the bullpen finally imploded under the pressure in the late innings. If old Andy can do this to us, I can only imagine what would have happened had we drew Sabathia in this series (would we even need to play the game?).
When will this miserable streak end?
-Any thoughts as to why Jesse Crain still has a major league job?
Preview (22-14, 1.5 GB DET): Nick Blackburn (3-1, 4.76) vs. Sergio Mitre (0-1, 3.86). Don’t so much care about the Yankee Curse in this one as just scraping out a win before the Tigers catch us again.