The Yankees can be forgiven for arriving at Target Field expecting to do well this week, even if Monday night's loss was their 21st in their last 30 games after a surprisingly hot start.
As New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro pointed out, the Twins have been "a Yankees punching bag for 15 years, the Yankees 74-29 against them going back to 2002 before Monday night."
Even if you didn't know the exact numbers, even the most casual of Twins fans know that their team has played the weak sibling against the Yankees pretty much since the start of the third millennium. There's also the 2-12 postseason record, in the shape of four American League Divisional Series that New York has won in either a three-game sweep (2009 and 2010) or four games (2003 and 2004).
Players have changed, but the results have remained the same.
This time, though, it was the Yankees coming to Minnesota in sad and beleaguered condition. In addition to the losing, they arrived at 4 a.m. Monday after playing 16 innings on Saturday and a day/night doubleheader at Boston on Sunday. Monday night's pitchers, Bryan Mitchell and Caleb Smith, were minor-league call-ups from over the weekend to shore up a depleted pitching staff -- another routine Twins fans have come to expect. (Welcome, Bartolo Colon!)
The result was the first-string Twins over the second-string Yankees, who had a few others in the lineup that sent fans to their mobile devices to figure out exactly who they were.
As Vaccaro wrote: "The Twins are now only a half-game behind the Yankees for the second wild card, based mostly on the strength of games exactly like this one: Minnesota is 24-12 in games decided by one or two runs; the Yankees are 14-22. This is your muscle memory. You worry about today, tomorrow be damned."
Mike Mazzeo pointed out in the New York Daily News that the Yankees had none of their veterans warming up in the eighth inning as the Twins put their together their winning rally.
“I didn’t have too many options, that’s why,” manager Joe Girardi said after the game.
With a day of rest, the Yankees bullpen -- featuring All-Star Game set-up man Dellin Betances and 100-mph throwing closer Aroldis Chapman -- should be back at full strength when the Yankees face Colon, who had an 8.18 ERA before being released by Atlanta last month. The Twins will be hoping that's still not enough for their rivalry with the Yankees to return to "normal."
Finally, there was Aaron Judge, who is proving that (despite the Twins' awful Miguel Sano right field experiment of 2016), a supersized slugger can play in the field.
Watch this throw if you need proof: