As the Twins' pregame news release optimistically notes, "four Twins recorded hits off Masahiro Tanaka earlier this season." So it can be done.
Still, that 3-1 loss in Yankee Stadium on May 31 was one of the dominating pitching performances the Twins have absorbed this year. They scored an unearned run in the first inning, then managed to get only one baserunner as far as third base the rest of the game. Tanaka, 11-3 with a 2.10 ERA in his rookie season with the Yankees, pitched eight innings, struck out nine and walked two.
The Twins get another chance against the Japanese star tonight, in the opener of a four-game holiday weekend series with the Yankees. It's Derek Jeter's final visit as a player, other than the All-Star Game later this month, and it also features Phil Hughes' second start against his old teammates. Hughes beat New York in Yankee Stadium the day after Tanaka's gem, and manager Ron Gardenhire said he knows that Hughes is pumped up a little bit for tonight. Hughes has allowed five runs in three of his last five starts, though he gave up just two in the first seven innings last week in Texas. Still, after giving up 19 hits and 10 runs in his last two starts, the Twins are looking for a bounce-back performance.
Here are tonight's lineups, with New York third baseman Zelous Wheeler making his major-league debut after eight years in the minors: