Earn our Stripes: Twins vs. Yankees Series Preview
A thorough stomping of the Yankees over the course of the next four days could, and should, provide the Twins some serious mojo heading into a very sanguine June. New York will visit Minnesota twice this year, but the timing of this first showdown offers the Twins a ripe opportunity to surge back into first place (the White Sox visit the East-leading Rays this weekend), to alert All Star voters that the Bread Basket has some deserved selections (Varitek should not be leading Mauer), and to curb the driving east coast bias that seemingly begins each addition of SportsCenter. Yesterday on said program, while watching analyst Steve Phillips dissect the Central Division, I listened as he ripped Detroit's pitching, weighed Cleveland's promise, and celebrated Chicago's progress. There was no mention of the Twins.
To start June by taking 3 of 4 over last place New York, the Twins will not only empower crowds that should surpass 110,000 over the four-day set, the club will also jump-start a very manageable month that finds 6 of our 8 opponents (we play the Brewers twice) at or beneath .500 as of this 5/29 writing.
But while a solid showing would taste sweet, it's both realistic and important to note that the Twins' recent history against the Yankees has been wholly sour, as evidenced by our postseason losses to New York in both 2003 and '04. Further highlighting our inability to cross the 'Stripes can be bluntly noted in the fact that they've roundly kicked our ass in the regular season: since 1992, the Twins have just one winning regular season (2001) against the Yankees. In that stretch, we've been outscored 686-508.
Let's segue to some numbers, beginning with the pitching probables:
5/30- RHP Mike Mussina (7-4, 4.39 ERA) vs. LHP Glen Perkins (2-1, 2.77)
5/31- RHP Chien-Ming Wang (6-2, 3.82) vs. RHP Boof Bonser (2-6, 6.16)
6/1- RHP Darrell Rasner (3-1, 1.80) vs. RHP Nick Blackburn (4-3, 3.39)
6/2- TBA (likely either RHP Joba Chamberlain, 1-2, 2.28, or LHP Andy Pettitte, 5-5, 4.11) vs. RHP Livan Hernandez (6-2, 4.60)
This final game is scheduled to be nationally telecast.
Here's how Twins' regulars have hit (batting average/on base percentage/slugging clip) in their respective careers versus the Yankees, followed by a notable stat against one of the aforementioned probables:
Gomez (5 games)- .385/.467/.385; 0-2 vs. Wang, 2K
Castilla (4 games)- .333/.600/.333
Mauer (17 games)- .259/.375/.315; 0-6 vs. Mussina, 0-2 vs. Rasner
Morneau (23 games)- .296/.345/.531; 4-11 vs. Mussina, 4-6 vs. Wang
Cuddyer (27 games)- .223/.275/.298; 2-13 vs. Mussina, 2-8 vs. Pettitte
Kubel (13 games)- .333/.389/.424; 1-7 vs. Mussina, 1 HR
Young (25 games)- .278/.307/.333; 2-11 vs. Mussina; 5-12 vs. Wang, 7-11 vs. Pettitte
Lamb (17 games)- .293/.323/.414; 6-16 vs. Mussina, 1 HR, 1 2B
Harris (17 games)- .241/.318/.293; 6-10 vs. Pettitte, 1-4 vs. Mussina, 2 BB
Monroe (27 games)- .193/.234/.284; 1-11 vs. Wang, 1-8 vs. Pettitte, 2-8 vs. Mussina
As the numbers suggest, myriad Twins of both past and present have struggled against Mussina, who holds a career mark of 20-6 against our boys. Wang has been successful as well, as evidenced by his 2-0 lifetime line against Minnesota.
Offensively for the Yanks, here's how their regulars have hit against either Livan, Boof, or both:
Johnny Damon- 0-9 vs. Livan, 3 K; 2-5 vs. Boof, 1 HR
Derek Jeter- 5-12 vs. Livan, 2 BB; 2-6 vs. Boof
Bobby Abreu- 19-67 vs. Livan, 4 2B, 2 HR, 10 BB
Alex Rodriguez- 8-13 vs. Livan. 3 2B, 2 HR
Hideki Matsui- 2-3 vs. Livan, I HR
Jason Giambi- 1-9 vs. Livan
Robinson Cano- 3-4 vs. Boof, 1 2B
Melky Cabrera- 4-5 vs. Boof
Jose Molina- 0-2 vs. Boof
Again, gleaning from the numbers, Bonser has really struggled in this match-up (shock). Lifetime, he's 0-2 in two starts against the Bombers, with an ERA of 9.31. Livan has experienced similar hurdles. He's 0-3 in four starts, with an ERA of 6.08, having surrendered 6 HR's and 16 walks in those starts.
Upstart Tampa (32-21) has kept the national spotlight along the coast, but a strong series against the Yankees will swivel a few more deserved cameras upon our plucky and battling Twins.