The Yankees are bringing a 103-victory season into the American League Divisional Series against the Twins, who won 101 games and are bringing underdog status into the best-of-5 series, which begins Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
As fearful as many Twins fans are of playing the Yankees -- you know, the 2-13 postseason record and the years of regular-season domination by the New Yorkers -- this series isn't being seen as a lock in New York.
Here's some of what's been written recently, with links to the full stories:
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talked about his respect for the Twins with New York Post writer Kevin Kernan: "Their players, not surprisingly that the players that have been constructed there with the roster there under Falvey’s leadership, they’re legit. I think every team in the American League actually has a chance to run the table and represent the league in the World Series so we are going to take our shot just like they are. We've got to play our best baseball. Period. End of story,’’
Also in the Post, Ken Davidoff reminded readers that the Yankees haven't been to the World Series in 10 years and that they are playing with something to lose -- goodwill: "An ALDS loss to their historic punching bags from Minnesota would set up the Yankees for the sort of disappointment they haven’t experienced since Gary Sanchez played at the Class A level. Or do you not remember the 2012 AL Championship Series? Those Yankees, 95-67 in the regular season and having outlasted the Orioles in the ALDS, took on the Tigers (88-74) with the home-field advantage with the chance to reach the World Series…and fell on their faces, getting swept and drawing a particularly heated brand of rancor from their fan base over the roster’s age and style of play. By Opening Day of 2015, just four players — [Brett] Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, [C.C.] Sabathia and Mark Teixeira — of the 26 guys who played in that series remained on the Yankees’ roster. While an ALDS loss to the Twins wouldn’t set in motion that sort of cataclysm, it would heavily damage the goodwill created by this Yankees team’s “Next man up!” ethos and the roster depth which made that possible."
A story in the New York Times by James Wagner looked back on the three-game series at Target Field in July that was noted around baseball for its offensive volume: "As they proved during the season against the Yankees, the A.L. Central champion Twins will be stout opposition. The Yankees won four of six games against the Twins in the regular season, and in the three-game series in Minneapolis in July, two of the best offenses in baseball clobbered each other’s pitching staffs. The damage: 57 combined runs and 20 home runs. “That was crazy,” Yankees pitcher James Paxton said. “It’s going to be intense if it’s anything like that.”
A 14-12 win over the Twins in 10 innings on July 23, which ended with center fielder Aaron Hicks’s diving catch with the bases loaded, was probably the most dramatic game the Yankees played this season. “We got out of Minnesota by the hair on our chinny-chin-chin,” Cashman said. Added [manager Aaron] Boone of the Twins, “They’re a beast.”
On nj.com, writer Randy Miller listed six reasons for the Yankees to be concerned about playing the Twins. One of them is the bullpen, which you wouldn't have imagined a couple of months back: "The Yanks have household names in their bullpen – star closer Aroldis Chapman, star setup man Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle – but an unheralded group of Twins relievers have put up better stats over the final six weeks of the regular season. The Twins’ bullpen was viewed as a big weakness through midseason, but youngsters joining the club from the minors and a trade-deadline deal for Sergio Romo led to shocking improvement. Since Aug. 16, the Twins’ 3.27 bullpen ERA over 41 games ranked second in the majors and first in the American League."
And finally, blogger Paul Semendinger sounds a bit scared on the Yankees blog at startspreadingthennews.com: "Last week, while participating as a featured guest on the Bronx Beat Podcast, I opined that I am a little more than fearful of the Minnesota Twins in the playoffs. I have said this often to many am usually greeted by the words that add to my fear - 'Have no worries, the Yankees always beat the Twins' Has there ever been a team that always defeats its opponents? Always? As in forever?"
That's all ... for now.