The Twins don't have all that great of a postseason record against the New York Yankees, historically. In fact, it has pretty much sucked. They're 2-9, losing the division series in 2003, 2004 and 2009, but that doesn't mean they don't have confidence heading into October baseball in 2010.
Having lost eight of their final 10 regular season contests to end the year with a 94-68 record, they're not exactly on a roll. Then again, Saturday's 5-4 walkoff win over the Toronto Blue Jays proved that spark was still alive, and the team has become healthier over the past couple of weeks, having rested those in need of a break.
Nick Blackburn, who pitched well on Sunday through seven solid innings with six strikeouts, is expected to start the possible game four at Yankee Stadium. I love his attitude toward once again facing the Wild Card-winning Yankees in the first round:
I think at first there was a little bit of shock for us to be playing the Yankees, you know, but they're a beatable team. We can go out there and beat 'em, and there's no reason we shouldn't.
Fun fact: Joe Mauer -- whose likeness is alongside Justin Morneau on these hilarious t-shirts at Target Field -- doubled on Sunday to polish off the season with a career-high 43 two-baggers, the third-most in history by a catcher. Although he didn't back up last year's power numbers, Mauer was still a key element to the team's success. I heard a caller on the Extra Innings show yesterday wonder if Joe would have gotten the same giant contract had he "under-performed" last season. Your thoughts? Are you disappointed Man Muscles didn't crush more homers this year?
The team's final roster spot is down to Jon Rauch, Scott Baker or Glen Perkins. Ron Gardenhire is expected to make a decision Tuesday after Rauch throws a bullpen session to see whether or not his knee would be ready to go on the fly. Who would you rather see in a high-pressure (or low-pressure for that matter) postseason inning?
While Rauch has 21 saves and a 3.12 ERA on the year, Baker and his sore elbow did not throw out of the bullpen at all. Since they're both dealing with joint issues, I just think it's a matter of who between the two of them will be able to efficiently warm up without hurting themselves. Glen Perkins has also had some success as a reliever, but I'm pretty sure he'll just be on call in the unfortunate event of an injury.
The rest of the lineup is ready to go, and it's the same one Gardy used during Sunday's season finale.
Some good news: Wally the Beer Man will be serving delicious, ice cold adult beverages during the playoffs, just not at Target Field. If you can't make it to the ballpark, head down to Sneaky Pete's in downtown Minneapolis and buy a brew from Wally.
Some bad news, but no surprise: Justin Morneau will not be playing at all this year. The post-concussion symptoms that have plagued him since July 7 will keep him on the bench until Spring Training.
The playoffs officially begin this Wednesday when the Bronx Bombers head to Target Field at 7:37pm with Francisco Liriano facing CC Sabathia.
Also, the Twins will be on ESPN's E:60 at 6pm Tuesday night on the eve of their ALDS opener, with commentary from Gardy and a few players including Nick Punto and Michael Cuddyer.