For so much of this MLB season, the focus has been on the rapid pace that baseballs are flying out of parks – with the Twins, of all teams, at the record-setting forefront.
The organization that has been known for small ball instead of the long ball, surpassed the Yankees’ single-season home run record – and they did it on Aug. 31 with a full month left in the season, for the love of Nick Punto.
But Twins fans for a while have also kept a skeptical eye cast toward the big, bad Yankees – as a possible foe, first and foremost, in a postseason that has seen the Yankees eliminate the Twins in 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2017, with 10 consecutive New York victories and counting during that run … but also as a team that was hitting a lot of homers of its own.
And, well, as much as Twins fans love to fret they are often correct with their instincts. On Tuesday, Mitch Garver hit another huge home run for the Twins in a 5-0 win over the Nationals. The Yankees lost to the woeful Tigers, but New York blasted six homers in the process.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the home run tally officially reads: Twins 276, Yankees 276.
The home run record is mainly a vanity piece and is far superseded by how the Twins close out the regular season and what they are able to accomplish should they, as expected, make the playoffs. And it should be pointed out that the Twins have played two fewer games than New York, so they have 18 chances at more bombas while the Yankees have just 16. And yes, the Twins have some easier games coming up on their schedule.
But New York has two more against Detroit, six more against Toronto and a bunch of games at Yankee Stadium, whose dimensions are only slightly larger than the average office cubicle.
Maybe the Twins will fend off the challenge as they have (so far) Cleveland’s division surge. It could even happen that the Twins and Yankees finish the year sharing the record, both with a previously unfathomable 300-plus.
And maybe, just maybe, they will need more playoff games to settle the score. In a strange way, the Yankees might be the more favorable playoff matchup for the Twins than the Astros, history be damned.
With Byron Buxton and Michael Pineda out, Minnesota might be relying more than ever on home runs — something Jim Souhan and I discussed, among other things, on Wednesday’s Twins Insider podcast.
If so, this is notable: While the teams are tied at 276 homers hit, the Twins have allowed just 176 homers (fourth-fewest in the majors) while the Yankees have allowed 229 (sixth-most).
On one hand, it would be the ultimate indignity if the Yankees swooped in to claim the home run record.
But outslugging the Yankees to win a playoff series? That would be the ultimate revenge.