Archived Story

Twins-Yankee series begins Wednesday

Published 10:03am Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS-After playing in a 163rd game each of the last two seasons, the Twins (94-68) used an incredible second-half run to put away their sixth AL Central title of the decade with plenty of time to spare. It also allowed manager Ron Gardenhire to spend the final two weeks of the season trying to get Mauer (knee) and Thome (back) healthy and ready for the first playoff series at spacious Target Field.

The Twins will see if they are ready to go when hthey open the American League Division Series Wednesday against the wild card New York Yankees.

These aren’t the same cute, cuddly Twins who always seemed to defy the odds and win in spite of playing under financial constraints. The payroll swelled to nearly $100 million this year as the team reaped the benefits of its new ballpark. Minnesota added proven producers Hudson, Thome and Hardy to an established core of Mauer, Cuddyer and Justin Morneau, who hasn’t played in three months because of a concussion and will miss the postseason.

Even so, the Twins were clearly the best team in the AL Central during the second half. Now comes the hard part. Minnesota has lost nine straight postseason games and hasn’t won a playoff series since 2002. To snap that skid, they’ll have to conquer their nemesis. The Yankees are 9-2 vs. the Twins in the ALDS this decade and have dominated head-to-head matchups in the regular season as well (4-2 this year).

To continue that success, the Yankees will have to do it without home-field advantage this time. This is one occasion when the Twins might actually miss the Metrodome. Target Field has opened to rave reviews, bringing outdoor baseball to the Twin Cities for the first time in nearly three decades.

But the Dome, with its baseball-colored roof and earsplitting crowd noise, gave the Twins one of the few true home-field advantages in the league. Then again, all that noise didn’t do them much good in their postseason series against the Yankees, who went 5-0 there in the last three ALDS meetings.

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