In seven hours when Francisco Liriano steps onto the mound to face Derek Jeter, another ALDS between the Yanks and the Twins will begin. These two teams are long-time first-round foes, and the Yankees, who beat the Twins last year en route to their 27th World Series championship, have never lost a playoff series to the Twins. In fact, their triumph over the Minneapolis franchise dates back to the days of the Washington Senators and even inspired a popular Broadway musical.
In recent years, the Yanks have had the Twins’ number. They faced the Twins ten times in 2009 — including the three playoff games — and won every match-up. This year, the Twins took just two of the six regular season games from the Yanks, and one of those was quite the stunner. In fact, under Ron Gardenhire, the Twins are just 16-45 against the Yankees.
This year, the season series with the Twins was a bit odd. The Yankees and Twinkies played each other six times over the span of 13 games in mid-May and then not at all throughout the rest of the season. Even though the two clubs have changed their make-up since then, let’s relive those moments of the 2010 baseball season.
Both the Twins and Yankees entered their first match-up of the season at 22-12, but the Yankees drew first blood. The Twins held a 4-3 lead into the 7th, but Scott Baker couldn’t nail down an out as the Yanks hung up a four-spot that inning. A.J. Burnett threw six decent innings, but just 51 of his 100 pitches were strikes. Joba Chamberlain struck out Delmon Young, Alexi Casilla and Nick Punto to nail down the win, and Mariano recorded the save. This one was, by and large, a pretty
forgettable memorable game due to A-Rod’s grand slam after an intentional walk issued to Mark Teixeira. Let’s see Gardenhire pull that mistake again.
The next day saw a battle of the lefties as Andy Pettitte and tonight’s Game 1 starter Francisco Liriano squared off in the Bronx. The Yanks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first on three singles, but Liriano struck out the side as well. He would finish with seven strike outs and no walks, but the Yanks scored three runs on nine hits against the southpaw. The Yanks broke this one wide open when they scored four off of Jesse Crain and Ron Mahay in the 7th. Home runs by Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada accounted for those runs, and Andy Pettitte threw six shutout innings en route to his fifth win of the year.
The Yanks suffered through a lot of “worst loss of the season” games this year, but this one might just take the cake. After a strong outing from Sergio Mitre and up 3-1 in the 8th, the Yanks turned the game over to Joba Chamberlain, and things went south in a hurry. Denard Span singled, and after an Orland Hudson ground-out, Joe Mauer walked. Joba struck out Justin Morneau, but Michael Cuddyer singled to load the bases. Joe Girardi went to Mariano for a four-out save, and Rivera promptly walked Jim Thome to force in a run and allowed a grand slam to Jason Kubel. Never had Yankee Stadium been so quiet.
Just nine days later, these two teams went at it again, this time in brand-new Target Field. Through five innings, the Twins and Yanks were scoreless when rain halted play. The game resumed on Wednesday afternoon, and Derek Jeter, the second batter of the afternoon, hit a rare home run to left-center. That lone run would hold up as David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera finished the win for A.J. Burnett.
Now, this one was a thriller. Andy Pettitte and Francisco Liriano again faced off against each other, and this time, the pitcher’s duel lived up to its billing. The Twins took an early first-inning lead when Joe Mauer singled home Denard Span, but the Yanks got one back when Kevin Russo doubled in Francisco Cervelli. A Brett Gardner triple gave the Yanks a 2-1 lead, but a Delmon Young double knotted the score at two in the 7th. With two outs in the top of the ninth and with then-closer Jon Rauch on the mound, Nick Swisher launched a home run to right field to give the Yanks a 3-2 lead that Mariano Rivera would not surrender. If Liriano and CC Sabathia — who never faced the Twins this year — are on tonight, expect a thriller like this one.
The final match-up of the season between these two clubs was your typical Javy Vazquez/Chan Ho Park special. Javy gave up five earned runs in 5.2 innings, and Park gave up a pair while recording just one out. By the time Chad Gaudin allowed the Twins’ 8th run to score in the 8th inning, the Yanks had long since lost this one. It was just one of those days as the top of the Yanks’ order went 6 for 16 but scored just two runs.