GameChat – Twins @ Yankees #1, 6:05, FSN ESPN am1500

It’s time for the Twins to step up against the Evil Empire and establish themselves as being equally competitive. This four game series is the only time the Twins will visit Yankee Stadium (at least until October, anyway), so there’s no point in putting this off… as Cuddy’s spring training t-shirts put it, DON’T BE DENIED… WIN!

TWINS @ YANKEES
Span, CF Gardner, LF
Nishioka, 2B Jeter, SS
Mauer, C Teixeira, 1B
Morneau, 1B Rodriguez, A, 3B
Young, D, LF Cano, 2B
Thome, DH Swisher, RF
Kubel, RF Posada, DH
Valencia, 3B Granderson, CF
Casilla, A, SS Martin, C
Baker, S, P Nova, P

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 3 8 0
NY Yankees 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 4 7 1

I’m not real sure how I feel about this game.

On the one hand, in many respects this may have been the cleanest performance of the year for the Twins. Delmon made some nice plays in the outfield (yes… I said Delmon) and the infield turned three pretty nifty double plays (with Nishioka doing the turning of all three at 2B). Kevin Slowey and Dusty Hughes out of the bullpen were very solid. Even Scott Baker, once he got out of the first two innings, stuck around and kept battling. He definitely kept his team in the game and gave them a chance to win.

On the other hand, the Twins have not really had a problem playing the Yankees close. They’ve done that real well the last few years. Very few losses to the Evil Empire are lopsided. But they’re all still losses and that’s getting really… really… old. It was great seeing Jim Thome come through with an RBI double to the warning track… but five more feet or so and it’s a home run and the game is tied. I’m tempted to rant a bit about the disparate strike zones (especially the zone given Rivera… Jason Kubel singled on an 0-2 pitch below his knees and never had a ball thrown to him in the strike zone), but that’s so commonplace that at some point you have to just know that’s going to happen and resolve to overcome it.

It’s the whole “overcoming it” thing that is a problem. I think we saw indications that there are enough of the newer guys who haven’t let the Yankees get in their heads (Thome has never cowered, Nishi didn’t seem phased, Hughes definitely went right after the Yankee hitters, for example). Let’s hope it starts rubbing off on Mauer and some of the others. In any event, we’ll line up and try again Tuesday night!

- JC