Yes, I’m aware that the Yankees are the defending World Champions.
Yes, I’m aware that the Twins have had a little trouble beating the Yankees, whether in the playoffs, regular season or (I suspect) Spring Training since Ron Gardenhire took over for Tom Kelly in 2002.
Yes, I know the Yankees have Cy Young “lock” (according to Bryant Gumble anyway) CC Sabathia ready to face the Twins in Game 1 of the series.
Yes, I’m aware that the Yankees have more likely future Hall of Famers in their clubhouse than the Twins have had in their entire 50 year history.
And I don’t see how any of us could help but be aware that the national media considers this series to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience to be overcome on the way to the Yankees/Rays AL Championship Series they’ve all been salivating over for weeks.
But to quote (or at least paraphrase) perhaps the best fictional baseball manager ever, Lou Brown of Major League fame, “I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to [lose to the Yankees]. The press seems to think that we’d save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ’em all a nice big shitburger to eat!”
As much as the media and a significant and vocal part of their fan base would like us to believe, these Yankees are not the same Yankees who dispatched the Twins on the way to winning the 2009 World Series. The Yankees 2009 post-season rotation of Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte consisted of three guys who could easily have been aces on the staff of most contending teams last year. Sabathia will again be a formidable presence for the Twins to overcome, but the likely starters for games 2, 3 and, if necessary, 5 are performing nowhere near “ace” levels lately.
The Yankee offense can score runs, as always. But if they’re going to waltz over the Twins in games at Target Field, they’re likely going to have to do so using speed and defense because I just don’t see either team being likely to overpower the other in the cool evening air at a ballpark that has been reluctant to give up home runs to the gaps or center field in even the warmest days of summer. But make no mistake about it, the Yankees DO have the speed and outfield defense to potentially do serious damage.
Likewise, these are not your 2009 Minnesota Twins, either.
As the discussion about the likely playoff roster has heated up over the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot said and written about how thin the Twins’ bench will be. That’s fair, to a degree. But if you think having a bench consisting of utility infielders like Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert is problematic, just keep in mind that those two players were in the Twins STARTING infield the last time the Twins lined up for Game 1 against the Yankees… and the Twins’ DH in that game was Brendan Harris. You may have heard that the Twins have a different DH lined up for this year.
There’s no question that, defensively and offensively, the current infield of Valencia, Hardy, Hudson and Cuddyer is a significant improvement over Tolbert, Cabrera, Punto and Cuddyer from 2009.
Of course, many fans are talking about how this year’s outfield defense of Young, Span and Kubel doesn’t measure up to last year. But guess what… that’s exactly the defensive outfield that started Game 1 and Game 3 for the Twins last year. Carlos Gomez essentially played a similar role to what Jason Repko plays this year… late inning defensive replacement.
For those of you who think predicting the Twins will win this series is bordering on crazy, here’s something to consider… the Yankees have entered post-season as the Wild Card team three times. How many times have they survived to move on to the ALCS? Exactly… zero.
Yes, home field advantage in a 5-game series IS a big deal. It’s even more so in the newly dubbed Ballpark of the Year!
Fasten your seatbelts, folks, I think we’re going to enjoy this ride! – JC
|Jeter, SS||Span, CF|
|Swisher, RF||Hudson, O, 2B|
|Teixeira, 1B||Mauer, C|
|Rodriguez, A, 3B||Young, D, LF|
|Cano, 2B||Thome, DH|
|Thames, DH||Cuddyer, 1B|
|Posada, C||Kubel, RF|
|Granderson, CF||Valencia, 3B|
|Gardner, LF||Hardy, SS|
|Sabathia, P||Liriano, P|
Just going to let this one sit quietly for a bit – no one really wants to start this way. But here’s my perception of the game overall: this was NOT our historical ‘give the game to the Yankees because we’re ‘quaking in our boots’. This was a well-battled game of baseball that didn’t go our way in the end. Last year we started really making the Yankees have to play baseball to beat us and then giving it away at the end. This was the best they had to offer in their pitching rotation so now? yeah, I’m oddly optimistic!! Let’s bring it back out there tomorrow and see what they got!