TBS analyst Buck Martinez saw the Twins and Yankees play during the final week of the season and called to tell me he thinks the Twins have a great chance to win this series.
Martinez, a former big league catcher and manager, is working today's game between the Rays and Rangers. He also does color for Blue Jays telecasts and was at Target Field for Toronto's first two games against the Twins last week before heading to Boston for Yankees/Red Sox.
Martinez really likes the way the Twins play. He passed along these insights on the Bronx Bombers:
* The Yankees are really struggling to stop the running game. Jorge Posada is having trouble catching balls in the dirt.
My question is, will the Twins be able to take advantage? As La Velle noted recently, they stole 68 bases this year, their lowest total since 1984.
* New York's bullpen is very good. The righthanded setup trio of Kerry Wood, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson is pretty potent, and everybody knows about Mariano Rivera. Wood has been a great addition. He's allowed the Yankees to rest somebody every day.
* Mariano Rivera had a rough September, but a recent bullpen session straightened him out. He had his fingers positioned wrong on his patented cut-fastball and lost some velocity and quickness. He fixed the grip, and he's looking good.
* Derek Jeter is swinging pretty well, but he's not hitting for power and seems more content with opposite-field singles.
* Curtis Granderson can trace his turnaround to Aug. 12. Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said he needed to keep Granderson out of the lineup for two days to help him rebuild his batting stance. Granderson has been on a tear ever since.
* Nick Swisher also owes his 2010 success to Long, who helped him change his whole approach over the winter. Swisher wanted to hit for more average without losing his power, and it's worked.
* Andy Pettitte has made just three starts since July and did not throw his cut fastball on his rehab starts. He had eight strikeouts in four innings Saturday, but it was a 4 p.m. game at Fenway Park. The shadows were brutal. Nobody could see. So that's something to keep in mind for Game 2.
Update: The Twins are keeping Scott Baker as their long reliever instead of Kevin Slowey. Here is the final 25-man roster: C) Joe Mauer, Drew Butera; INF) Michael Cuddyer, Orlando Hudson, J.J. Hardy, Danny Valencia, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert, Nick Punto; OF) Delmon Young, Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Jason Repko; DH) Jim Thome; LHP) Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing, Brian Fuentes, Jose Mijares; RHP) Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn, Matt Capps, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain and Scott Baker.
Update: Gardy said Twins went with Baker because he's more of a strikeout pitcher than Slowey. Manager said team strongly considered C Jose Morales, but he wanted guys who can pinch run for Kubel, Thome and Hardy. Also, sounds like Repko will be a late-game defensive replacement for Kubel.
Gardy on potential stolen-base opportunities: "Posada behind the plate is not throwing well, so that’s obviously one thing that all of our reports say to attack. We are not a big running team. We have a few guys who can run, but we will definitely be looking to run, and we will look at balls in the dirt, things like that where it's hard for Posada to come up throwing."
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Nick Swisher, RF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Marcus Thames, DH
7. Jorge Posada, C
8. Curtis Granderson, CF
9. Brett Gardner, LF
Starting pitcher: LH CC Sabathia (21-7, 3.18 ERA)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Delmon Young, LF
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
7. Jason Kubel, RF
8. Danny Valencia, 3B
9. J.J. Hardy, SS
Starting pitcher: LH Francisco Liriano (14-10, 3.62 ERA)
Target Field. First pitch: 7:37 p.m. TV: TBS. Twins Radio Network