Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.
I put this statistic on Twitter Tuesday (@afansview, if you want to follow), so bear with me if you're bored with it. Here, at least, I can share in complete sentences:
In the 92 games that Ron Gardenhire has managed for the Twins against the Yankees, he has won 23 of them. That record, 23-69, includes the postseason and gives him a .250 winning percentage in those games.
In 1962, their first team as an expansion franchise, the New York Mets went 40-120 and are generally regarded as the worst team in baseball history. The '62 Mets had two 20-game losers in the starting rotation, a 19-game loser and a reliever with four saves and 17 losses. The offense wasn't much better.
The '62 Mets had the same winning percentage as Gardy's Twins against the Yankees since he took over for Tom Kelly, who managed a 74-86 record (.463) against the Yankees during his years, according to a helpful tweet I received late Tuesday night.
Kelly, whose retired-number status comes from winning two World Series as opposed to year-after-year greatness, had a .478 winning percentage in his 16 seasons as Twins manager (1986-2001); Gardenhire has a .520 winning percentage since taking over for TK.
I can't tell you what that means with any degree of certainly worthy of blogging about. Anyway, it will be more interesting to hear what you all think of those numbers.
I do know this: The Twins have lost to the Yankees under a full array of circumstances, ranging from early season games (when fans were hopeful that things would be different) to meaningless late season games (when fans were hopeful that things would be different) to postseason games (when fans were hopeful that things would be different).
They almost never are.
In a story that appeared on CBSsports.com last year, former Twins Michael Cuddyer and Torii Hunter pretty much acknowledged that their team was psyched out against the Yankees in postseason play. "It was never about talent in those series. We played with them all of those games," Cuddyer. (One caution about the CBSsports.com story: Hunter's description of the game situation he talks about isn't accurate.)
There are 14 postseason Twins-Yankees game in Gardy's time. The Twins won two.
This Yankees domination during Gardenhire's tenure is in its 12th season and has been with teams of assorted abilities. As a rule, they have been more talented than most of Tom Kelly's teams that fared better -- if not well -- against the Yankees. This isn't a deal that can be explained away with a valid reference to small sample size.
The last two nights have been noteworthy because the Yankees have been fielding a lineup that would barely pass muster as the road team at a spring training game. The position players are the extraordinary Robinson Cano, fun-to-watch Brett Gardner, aging Ichiro and a half-dozen other guys who you thought were retired or never have heard of.
No Jeter, no Teixeira, no A-Rod, no Granderson, no Youkilis? No problem.
The Yankees have won these first two games just by showing up, pretty much.
That's all the more notable because in their previous 18 games before getting to Target Field, the Yankees had lost 13 of them. So with decent efforts, the Twins could be prolonging the buyer vs. seller nonsense they'd been attempting to pass off.
So maybe we're lucky that way.
The Yankees know they can beat the Twins with Laynce Nix at shortstop, David Adams at third and Zoilo Almonte in the outfield -- and would be pretty sure of beating them with the 10,000th, 20,000th and 30,000th paying fans at Target Field filling in at those positions.
Oh, wait. The Twins didn't draw 30,000 fans for the first two games against the Yankees on beautiful summer nights during a holiday week? Never mind.
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