We’ve all known this for a while now, but last night made it official: the Yankees will meet the Twins in the ALDS. The Astros won the 105th game of the season last night, which clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for Houston. It’s still possible for the Yanks and Astros to finish the season with the same record, but remember, Houston owns the tiebreaker due to their head-to-head record this year.
So, that’s that. The Yankees are the 2nd seed in the American League, so they’ll be taking on the 3rd-seeded Minnesota Twins. The series will begin on Friday, October 4. Here’s the schedule:
- Game 1, Yankee Stadium: Friday, October 4
- Game 2, Yankee Stadium: Saturday, October 5
- Game 3, Target Field: Monday, October 7
- Game 4 (if necessary), Target Field: Tuesday, October 8
- Game 5 (if necessary), Yankee Stadium: Thursday, October 10
We don’t have any start time yet–Monday will probably be the day for that–but my inclination is always that the Yankees will play evening games. That calculation changes a bit if Oakland wins the Wild Card game because of the West Coast considerations, but I’m always fine assuming that MLB gives the New York market the primetime slot. Especially for Game 2, since the NL series will be off that day.
Anyway, we’ll have a lot more coverage of this ALDS matchup throughout the week, but here’s a very quick primer on the road ahead for the Bombers as they begin their quest to bring home World Series title number 28.
The Yankees won this year’s head-to-head matchup 4-2, though the Twins were no slouches in those games. They hit a combined 28 home runs (remember, these two teams are slugging it out for the single-season home run record this year) in those 6 games. Here are the box scores and results from all six games, the first 3 of which were in the Bronx and the last 3 of which were in Minnesota:
- May 3: 6-3 win
- May 4: 7-3 loss
- May 5: 4-1 win (rain-shortened in the 8th)
- July 22: 8-6 loss
- July 23: 14-12 win (10 innings)
- July 24: 10-7 win
You no doubt remember the 14-12 win, which featured the insane Aaron Hicks catch and about 5 million other ridiculous things. Here are the video highlights:
Potential Starting Pitching Matchups
This is all a bit of guesswork, but we’ll likely see some combination of these 3 pitchers start the first 3 games of the series. Game 3, in my opinion, is all but a lock. How the two teams match up in Games 1 and 2 remains to be seen.
- Game 1: James Paxton vs. Jose Berrios
- Game 2: Luis Severino vs. Jake Odorizzi
- Game 3: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Devin Smeltzer
After that, well, we might see some bullpen games. The Yankees’ 7.7 bullpen fWAR ranks 2nd in baseball (a hair behind the rival Rays’ 7.8), and we all know how good the Yanks’ relief corp is. However, the Twins are right there too. Their 6.9 fWAR ranks third in baseball. Get ready for the battle of the bullpens and the battle of some serious slugging power.
We all know the Yankees’ injury/leave situation but the Twins are battling injuries and suspensions of their own. Here’s a very quick breakdown of who the Twins are missing now:
- Starting Center Fielder Max Kepler: he’s played once since September 15 with a shoulder strain
- Starting Right Fielder Marwin Gonzalez: he hasn’t played since September 22 with an oblique issue that caused him to miss several weeks back in August
- Starting First Baseman C.J. Cron: banged up (sore thumb) but he should be fine to play
- Catcher Mitch Garver: left hip tightness, but still playing
- Starting Pitcher Michael Pineda: Big Mike has been suspended for the rest of the season (and into 2020) for violating the league’s substance abuse policy
Ah, now the fun part. Part of me feels bad for Twins fans. Think about it. The Twins just won 100 games in a season for the first time since 1965 (we are very spoiled as Yankee fans, remember) and they’re going to have to come face the Yankees in the Bronx because of course they will. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that anyone reading this here website knows the postseason history between the Yankees and Twins, but, from our perspective, that history has absolutely ruled. So let’s recap it, shall we?
To start, the Twins last won a playoff series in 2002, when they dispatched the A’s en route to an ALCS loss to the Angels. They’ve reached the playoffs 7 times since then–and 6 of those playoff matchups have been against the Yankees, who have defeated them in 10 straight contests. Here is the series-by-series breakdown:
- 2003 ALDS: Yankees win series 3-1
- 2004 ALDS: Yankees win series 3-1
- 2009 ALDS: Yankees win series 3-0
- 2010 ALDS: Yankees win series 3-0
- 2017 AL Wild Card: Yankees win game 8-4
Oddly enough, I remember Game 1 of both the 2003 and 2004 ALDS like it was yesterday–Johan blanked the Yankees in both contests, though 2004’s was more memorable for the Twins. I was a young kid then, and I remember just being so frustrated that the Yankees couldn’t hit Johan…but that Game 1 was the last time the Twins defeated the Yankees in an October contest. Here are some highlights from some memorable Yankee-Twins matchups since, for your Saturday viewing pleasure:
May there be many more highlights like this to come starting next weekend. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?