La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Five keys to a Twins victory over the Yankees tonight

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: October 9, 2010 - 11:26 AM

Some quick thoughts about tonight's game:

1. Lefty hitters need to get going. Yankees righthander Philip Hughes is on the way to becoming a top pitcher in this game. But, this season, left-handed hitters had a higher OPS than right-handed hitters (.728 vs .624) with a noticeable difference in slugging percentage. Denard Span, Joe Mauer, Jim Thome and Jason Kubel should benefit.

2. Run when possible. This is the most station-to-station team Ron Gardenhire has had, but Yankees catcher Jorge Posada threw out just 15 percent of basestealers during the regular season. If Denard Span and Orlando Hudson get on base they should look to steal. Who knows? Posada might hurry one and throw it into center.

3. Gotta pitch the Yankees tough: This is a tough assignment for lefthander Brian Duensing - to help his team fight off elimination for one more day. He can't give in and he has to pitch inside. Don't let the Yankee hitters get comfortable in the batter's box, especially the right-handed hitters. If they get hit with a pitch, so be it.

4. Roll with the punches. This will be a hostile environment. The Yankees do a great job with they gameday presentation and Yankee fans will be on the Twins all game. One group of people this influences is the umpires.  They get caught up in the atmosphere and make calls that go against the opponent. We've all seen it. The Twins must keep composed and focused even if they think they are getting screwed.

5. Think macro. I don't want to see the Twins giving up outs in the first inning to move runners over. The Twins are a doubles team that was fifth in the league in runs scored during the regular. Be who you are. Look for crooked-numbered innings because it will take at least 5-6 runs to win this game. If you have to bunt someone over in the late innings, fine. But the mindset should be to score and keep scoring,.

 

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