After a remarkable regular season that saw the Twins win 85 games and secure a playoff berth, Minnesota heads to NY to once again attempt to vanquish the Yankees in the playoffs. Regardless of the final score, the Twins should be commended for making it to the Wild Card game. The victor will match up against the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians in the Divison Series.
The Twins will carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers on their active roster for Tuesday night's game.
"I've never been so proud of a group of guys in my entire life", said Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier.
And while the return of Miguel Sano might mean that the Twins now have two of the most exciting young hitters in baseball in their lineup in the persons of himself and center fielder Byron Buxton, the Yankees have a pair of similar young phenoms in right fielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez. Sano is now hitting.264 with 28 homers on the season.
NY counters with Luis Severino, who is 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA. It was clear for much of the stretch run that Paul Molitor has developed trust in Hildenberger and was using him to get key outs as the Twins worked to secure their playoff spot.More news: Mahatma Gandhi statue to be unveiled in Cardiff Bay
Tuesday night's victor moves on, while the loser is done and hangs up the cleats until 2018 Spring Training.
Like the Twins, New York has been fueled by its burgeoning big leaguers. While the Twins are certainly capable of winning the Wild Card game, the Yankees have been the better team, especially in terms of run differential, which is a very good indicator of a team's true strength. "It gives me more confidence to go out for my team".
They will turn to veteran righty Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA) in an effort to pull off the upset, and he went 0-1 in one start against the Yankees with a 3.18 ERA after allowing two runs and seven hits in 5.2 innings of a 2-1 road loss with one walk and three strikeouts on September 18. The Twins' best chance to win is by keeping relievers Dellin Betances and Arolis Chapman in the bullpen.
Minnesota is 7-3 in its last 10 games. Having mounted a strong finish to the season, the Yankees only trailed the Red Sox by 2.0 games at the end of the regular season - who knows if the Yankees would have surpassed the Red Sox had the regular season included an extra week of play.
The total has gone under in four of Minnesota's last five games. Yankees scored 858 runs, an increase of 178 from past year and second in the majors behind Houston (896). "I think the buildup before the game is nerve-racking, but once we step out on the field, it's the same game we've been playing since we were little kids".
That's probably the best 'pen in baseball, and if Girardi wanted to, he could essentially make the entire game a bullpen game, pulling Severino after a couple of innings.