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Tag: twins

Don’t Call Them Twinkies

Why the Twins Will Beat the Yankees…

My college roommate hailed from Edina, Minnesota. Eric was a catcher with an arm-shaped cannon (he’s unavailable to suit up for the Yankees Wednesday night) and remains a die-hard Twins fan. When we played stickball in the park in the sweltering June heat, he wore a turtleneck. When he went out to retrieve the Washington Post from a snow pile in February, he wore shorts and sandals. These Minnesotans are built differently than us New Yorkers. We save our shorts for the summer and bundle up in righteous indignation when it snows.

When the Yankees fell into their September funk, I began envisioning a brief, chilly, miserable series in Minnesota, with their ecstatic fans stomping their flip-flops and Robinson Cano inappropriately smirking from within the latest Gore-Tex innovation in hood-masks as he went oh-fer eight. Weather reports from Minnesota predict sun and warmth, so the Yankees will luck out in the first two games of the ALDS weather-wise. Hopefully it’s the first of many breaks that will go their way, because if they don’t catch some futher good fortune, this is the year the Twins get over the hump and beat the Yankees in the ALDS.

Minnesota set the tone for their 2010 season on March 21st. That’s the day they signed their franchise-player and reigning American League MVP to an eight-year, $184 million contract. The contract was almost Yankee-like in terms of length and amount. It was a commitment to the player, sure, but it was also a commitment to the team and the fan base. In concert with opening a new stadium, the organization was assuring any doubters that the Twins intended to compete with the big spenders.

It was only a few years ago that the Twins desperately peddled Johan Santana to the Yankees and Red Sox. After realizing they were being used as the target in an organizational pissing contest, they turned, dazed and confused, and accepted whatever crappy deal was still left on the table from the Mets. Santana has been good for the Mets, but the Twins are probably thrilled that they’re not the ones paying him right now, with or without shoulder surgery. But I can’t believe that either the fans, players or the management was happy about being the shuttlecock in a game of badminton between Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein.

Now the Twins have a new outlook, beginning with their new ballpark and continuing with a payroll that added 50% from 2009. The payroll still doesn’t come within half of the Yankees’, but for the players and fans in Minnesota, it must feel liberating. It must feel like they have finally joined the big time. And I think this optimism and confidence will fuel the upcoming ALDS. It’s their house; it’s their time. (more…)

Let’s Play One and a Half (and Win Two!)

The Yankees limped into this series, but it hasn’t mattered much; if the Twins didn’t have bad luck against the Yankees, they wouldn’t have no luck at all. Minnesota lost two one-run games in the space of an evening – the second half of last night’s suspended Scoreless Wonder, which ended up a 1-0 Yanks win thanks to Derek Jeter’s solo home run (and lead-preserving nifty defensive play), and then tonight’s 3-2 duel, which saw Andy Pettitte prevail over Francisco Liriano. Mariano Rivera saved both games, and if he didn’t quite radiate moonbeams and rose petals and ride off the field on a pegasus like he normally does, it was at least a step in the right direction.

I figured on the bullpen being a minefield today (as just getting through nine innings has proved plenty tough enough for those guys recently), but David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and Mo staggered through to the end of the first game unscathed, and Andy Pettitte gave everyone a break tonight by throwing 72 of his 94 pitches for strikes — “attack-tastic,” as my friend put it — powering through eight relatively smooth innings with a little help from his good friend the DP grounder. Safe to say he’s showing no ill effects from his recent elbow issue (…well, safe to say, but I’m knocking on wood anyway, just in case). He hit a few speed bumps: in the first inning, when my guy Denard Span doubled, stole third, and was delivered to home plate by Joe Mauer; and in the seventh, with Delmon Young’s RBI double. Beyond that, though Pettitte allowed eight hits, he walked no one, struck out four, and was generally able to keep his anguished, muttered self-criticism on the mound to a minimum. When he induced Joe Mauer to hit into the Twins’ third DP of the night and end the eighth inning, his fist pump was downright Joba-esque.

With the Yankees still staging their community theater adaptation of Waiting For Godot, starring Mark Teixeira’s offense (“We are all born mad. Some remain so”), they patched together a few runs from the bottom of the lineup. In the fourth Francisco Cervelli went all speed-demon on the Twins, beat out a potential double play throw, and scored from first on Kevin “Strong Island” Russo’s double; Russo himself scored in the seventh inning when Brett Gardner tripled. (“Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late!”).

Each team had two runs and eight hits when Nick Swisher came to the plate in the top of the ninth to face Jon Rauch and his neck tattoos. The third pitch of the at-bat was a ripe fastball, and we can only hope its violent death was quick and painless, as Swisher absolutely creamed it. It soared over the right field wall and gave them a 3-2 lead that they held onto, thanks to a much more Mariano-like Rivera appearance than we saw in the first game. Take a deep breath, the Yankees won another series.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver