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Article: Game Thread: Twins@Red Sox, 6/26@6:10pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:20 PM
One of the great thinkers of our time… Eddie Vedder once said: “The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself”. Take that Cleveland!...
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Is Gibson back?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:20 PM
After seeing Saturday's game, I'm as convinced as ever that Kyle Gibson has the stuff to be a dominant ace in the major leagues. What's m...
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Twins DFA Melotakis

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:16 PM
I was a bit surprised by this move.    Twins designate both Wimmers and Melotakis.   https://www.mlbtrade...-melotakis.htm...
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Behind the Fence: Kohl Stewart Rehabs, Draftees in Camp,...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 02:16 PM
Royce Lewis At Bat   In the last weekend before the Gulf Coast League opens up on Monday, the Twins played a five inning intersquad...
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Article: Interview With Twins #1 Draft Choice Royce Lewis

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:58 PM
When the Major League Baseball draft commenced in early June, the only certainty was that the Minnesota Twins would make the first select...
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Don't Blame "Those Damn Yankees"

This is the 7th story in "Those Damn Yankees" series, stories about Twins-Yankees rivalry by some of our favorite Twins Daily writers, leading up to the Bombers visit July 1st to the 4th.

Attached Image: Santana.jpg The Twins, according to legend, are afraid of the Yankees. And you know what, after some quick post-season exits at the hands of the Yankees, that is a pretty easy narrative to build. Add the fact that the Twins have struggled to beat the Yankees in the regular season, despite the Twins having fairly successful regular season teams for most of the 2000’s, and you begin to see how that narrative continues to grow.
In the 11 years between 2000 and 2010 the Twins compiled a .537 winning percentage, going 957-826. During that same span the Twins went 25-57 against the New York Yankees, a .325 winning percentage. Take out the 77 games against the Yankees and the Twins are 163 games above .500 instead of just 131. That is a significant bump. During that same period the Twins played the Yankees four times in the post-season, managing to win just two games, losing 12 and being swept in 2009 and 2010. That brings the Twins’ 11-year record against the Yankees to 27-69 (.281). That is bad, almost as bad as the 2003 Detroit Tigers (43-119), the worst team of the last 50 years.

During that same 11-year span the Yankees were 1060-718, had a losing record against only one American League team (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 45-54), and won two World Series titles (and losing in the World Series two other times). So clearly the Yankees were a better team than the Twins over that same period, but the Yankees’ .596 winning percentage is not so much larger than the Twins’ .537 that you would expect the Twins to fail so miserably against the Yankees during that span.

Assuming each team’s regular season winning percentages represented their true talent over those 11 years, the Yankees should have beaten the Twins only about 53% of the time, not the nearly 72% clip they had over that span. So what gives? Why did the Yankees perform so well against the Twins, especially in the post season?

For me, it comes down to roster construction, and specifically the post-season pitching rotations, where teams often turn to only their top three or four pitchers.


[TD="width: 213"]Kyle Lohse[/TD]
[TD="width: 213"]Roger Clemens[/TD]

[TD="width: 213"]4 (1-8 Yankees)[/TD]
[TD="width: 213"]Johan Santana[/TD]
[TD="width: 213"]David Wells[/TD]

Game (score, winner)Twins (starting pitcher)Yankees (starting pitcher)
1 (3-1 Twins)Johan SantanaMike Mussina
2 (1-4 Yankees)Brad RadkeAndy Pettitte
3 (1-3 Yankees)

The Twins, with a lack of depth in their starting rotation chose to go back to their ace on four days of rest, facing elimination in Game 4. The Yankees, alternatively, felt strong enough to run out David Wells (4.14 ERA, 4.3K/9, essentially a league average pitcher in 2003 despite his 15-7 W/L record) knowing that should they be pushed to a decisive Game 5 they could turn to Mike Mussina, their ace, against Brad Radke (4.49 ERA and a pitch-to-contact friendly contact rate of 82.2%).

So while you would have expected the Twins to score more than 3 runs over the final 3 games in this series, outside of Santana the Twins certainly did not have a rotation that could even dream of keeping up with New York (and remember that the Kyle Lohse of 2003 (4.61 ERA) is a far cry from the pitcher he has been over the past three seasons).

2004Posted Image

[TD="width: 213"]Carlos Silva[/TD]
[TD="width: 213"]Kevin Brown[/TD]

[TD="width: 213"]4 (5-6 Yankees)[/TD]
[TD="width: 213"]Santana[/TD]
[TD="width: 213"]Javier Vazquez[/TD]

Game (score, winner)Twins (starting pitcher)Yankees (starting pitcher)
1 (2-0 Twins)SantanaMussina
2 (6-7 Yankees)RadkeJon Lieber
3 (8-4 Yankees)

The Twins essentially ran the same group of pitchers out there again in 2004, except inserting Silva for Lohse (and Lohse ended up taking the loss in game four, appearing in relief as the game stretched to extra innings). Silva’s 4.21 ERA looks bad against the numbers that pitchers are putting up today, but amidst the steroid era scoring environment and the high-run environment of the Metrodome, it graded out as an ERA+ of 112. Kyle Lohse was really the team’s only other option there, but with an ERA north of 5 that year, he certainly did not look like a postseason starter.

The Yankees, on the other hand, had almost a completely new staff. Still anchored by Mike Mussina, this staff had Lieber and Vazquez making one year pit stops in New York, along with Brown who joined the Yankees in the twilight of his 19 year MLB career.

Attached Image: MoralesNathan2009.jpg
This time the starting pitching was not as big an issue as the bullpen and a lack of timely hitting from the Twins' regulars. The Twins won Game 1 on a great performance from Santana, then proceeded to lose Game 2, and Game 4 in extra innings after subpar performances from the consistently reliable Joe Nathan.

The Twins should have won every game in this series with the exception of Game 3 (which was a blowout until the Twins scored 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth). A little bad luck and some untimely hitting cost this team the Series, but after a similar result in 2003, that bad luck started to look more like a Twins inability to defeat the Bronx Bombers.


[TD="width: 213"]Carl Pavano[/TD]
[TD="width: 213"]Pettitte[/TD]

Game (score, winner)Twins (starting pitcher)Yankees (starting pitcher)
1 (2-7 Yankees)Brian DuensingCC Sabathia
2 (3-4 Yankees)Nick BlackburnA.J. Burnett
3 (1-4 Yankees)

After being swept in the post-season by the Oakland Athletics in 2006, the Twins stumbled in 2007 and just missed the post-season in 2008 after losing game 163, but they were back in the post-season again in 2009 to take on the Yankees.

My initial thought when looking at the Twins starters: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.Attached Image: BakerGroundBallReaction.jpg

I was going to say that things were probably not as bad as they looked, but Brian Duensing was the Twins’ only starting pitcher with an ERA under 4 (3.64), and he had made only nine starts that season (but he was sparkly good as a starter in those 9 games, pitching 52.2 innings to the tune of a 2.73 ERA despite just a strikeout rate of 5.6K/9). It seems ridiculous that the Twins started Duensing in Game 1, but the Twins burned Scott Baker in Game 163, along with half of their bullpen, the day before. Still, Blackburn might have been their best option in Game 1, and that alone is laughable from the 2013 perspective.

This was a Twins team that snuck into the playoffs and faced just about the most lopsided pitching matchups I can imagine. The Twins were at a special disadvantage as Joe Mauer, Denard Span, and Jason Kubel were their main offensive weapons, and as left-handed hitters, all were on the wrong side of the platoon against Sabathia and Pettitte.

Hard to imagine the Twins winning a game in this series, even if the two teams had been offensively similar (and they were not; the Yankees scored almost 100 more runs than the Twins in 2009). Maybe a little tough luck to be swept, but the Twins had the worst of it in every matchup.


[TD="width: 213"]Duensing[/TD]
[TD="width: 213"]Phil Hughes[/TD]

Game (score, winner)Twins (starting pitcher)Yankees (starting pitcher)
1 (4-6 Yankees)Francisco LirianoSabathia
2 (2-5 Yankees)PavanoPettitte
3 (1-6 Yankees)

For me, this was probably the most frustrating series against the Yankees. Maybe I do not even have to go that far; game 1 of this series was probably one of the most frustrating games I have watched as a Twins fan.

Attached Image: LirianoPitch.jpg The Twins went into this series with the Yankees owning home field advantage and playing in front of sold out crowds at brand spankin’ new Target Field. Twins euphoria had likely not been higher since 1991. Liriano was pitching well again (of course he was, it was an even numbered year) and the Twins staked him to an early 3-0 lead and Liriano was cruising through the first five innings.

Then in the sixth inning, following a Nick Swisher strike out, Mark Teixeira doubled and then advanced on a wild pitch. Liriano walked the next batter (Alex Rodriguez) and as a fan you started to get that feeling that the Yankees were going to blow things open. They did. Liriano fell apart and the Yankees grabbed the lead with a four run inning. At that point, just about everyone in Twins territory knew that the game, and ultimately the series, was over (or at least it surely seemed that way).

The Twins again struggled against left-handed pitching and in the final game of the series Brian Duensing could not make it out of the fourth inning and the Twins lost to the Yankees once again.

In 2004 I felt cheated. When the Yankees thoroughly defeated the Twins in the other three post season series, largely because of a lack of staring pitching, no such feeling ensued. Sure the Yankees had some great arms, but the Twins never had more than one pitcher who might be considered an above average post-season hurler. In 2009 they had none. Hate on the Yankees all you want, but the real culprit here is a lack of starting pitching.

Attached Image: yankee20sweep3.jpg

~~~ Originally published at www.knuckbleballsblog.com ~~~

For more of Those Damn Yankees, check out....

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