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Front Page: ALDS Game 1 Preview: Twins at Yankees

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 03 October 2019 - 09:31 PM

Hello darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk to you again.

Fifteen years of futility follow the Minnesota Twins into this showdown against familiar foes. But as Rocco Baldelli insistently reminds us, the past has no bearing on today. This is a fresh slate. And this ain't your father's Twins lineup.ALDS Game 1
Minnesota Twins (101-61) @ New York Yankees (104-58)
Series: 0-0
Start Time: 7:07 PM ET / 6:07 PM CT
Forecast: High 50s and clear skies

Pitching Matchup: Jose Berrios, RHP vs. James Paxton, LHP

Lineups:
Download attachment: Lineups1004.png

THE LOWDOWN
In this first round, Game 1 is monumental. Time Magazine noted two years ago that "ever since Major League Baseball instituted the best-of-five division series in 1995, 63 of the 88 contests have gone to whichever team won the first game." That's over 70 percent. Since then, seven out of eight Division Series have gone to the winner of Game 1. (It's worth noting that the Twins came out on the short side twice during that span, winning Game 1 but losing the ALDS to New York in both 2003 and 2004, but – channeling Baldelli – NO BEARING!)

This isn't the same level of single-game magnitude as the last time these two met in the postseason – a winner-takes-all Wild Card faceoff in 2017 – but it isn't too terribly far off, either.

The pressure is on New York, really. They will be in their element at Yankee Stadium, where they played .700 ball this season. They're throwing their hottest starter in Paxton, who went 10-0 with a 2.51 ERA in August and September. They expect to win this game and they probably should.

But the Twins have a few distinct things working in their favor as they look to disrupt New York's flow and flip the script.

1: They thrived on the road this year, with their .679 winning percentage nearly matching New York's at home. The Twins haven't lost a series opener on the road since the first week of July.

2: THEY. CAN. MASH. Yankee Stadium is a hitter's haven and that has generally favored New York in these match-ups over the years. But this record-shattering Bomba Squad is another story. They're every bit as good as their counterparts and have been especially effective against left-handers, against whom the Twins are collectively raking to the tune of .285/.351/.521.

Speaking of which, let's break down the pitching matchup.

BERRIOS VS. THE YANKEES
Season Numbers (Overall): 200.1 IP, 14-8, 3.68 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9
Season Numbers (vs. NYY): N/A

This will be Berrios's second postseason appearance. The first, of course, came against the same team in the same stadium. Berrios enetered in relief of Ervin Santana during the 2017 Wild Card Game and pitched three innings, allowing three runs on five hits while taking the loss. It wasn't a strong performance. But since then, Berrios has been a two-time All-Star while logging nearly 400 quality innings.

He has risen to the occasion in big spots. One instance that comes to mind was his much-hyped start last year in Puerto Rico, where he faced division rival Cleveland and hurled seven shutout innings. He was masterful against that same Indians team on Opening Day this year, blanking them over 7 2/3 frames.

But this kind of early-season dominance has become par for the course, and helps explain his pair of All-Star nods. What makes it a little harder to feel confident in the October version of Berrios is the way he's faded down the stretch in each of the past two seasons. This year, after posting a 3.00 ERA and holding opponents to a .238/.283/.388 before the break, the righty dropped to 4.64 and .268/.328/.428 in the second half.

Luckily, Berrios saw his velocity and whiffs normalize near the end of the year. This trend, in addition to the extra rest (he's gone six days between starts), offers reason to believe.






Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-10-03 at 5.19.47 PM.png

A full-strength Berrios is capable of keeping this high-powered Yankees lineup in check. Anything less is liable to put a lot of pressure on the Twins hitters and bullpen.

PAXTON VS. THE TWINS
Season Numbers (Overall): 150.2 IP, 15-6, 3.82 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, 11.1 K/9, 3.3 BB/9
Season Numbers (vs. MIN): 1 GS, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 K, 3 BB

Paxton was New York's marquee offseason addition, acquired via trade from Seattle in exchange for a package of prospects headlined by pitchers Justus Sheffield and Erik Swanson. The 30-year-old left-hander was very uneven in the first half for New York. He missed almost all of May with left knee inflammation, which cropped up during a shortened May 3rd start against Minnesota.

As we alluded earlier, though, Paxton pulled it together after the break, leading the Yankees to an 11-0 record in his August and September starts. He was borderline unhittable for much of the second half.

This will be Paxton's first time pitching in the playoffs, as Seattle failed to qualify in any of his six seasons there. But given that he notoriously kept his cool when a bald eagle landed on his back at Target Field in April of 2018, it seems safe to say he'll be unfazed by the moment.

One thing to watch: Paxton left his last start of the season, against Texas on September 27th, after one shaky inning due to tightness in his left glute. An MRI revealed only "a little nerve irritation," and obviously the southpaw has been cleared to take the hill one week later, but there's a possibility he won't quite be at 100%.

Another thing to watch: Paxton has allowed 23 home runs this year, and 21 have been hit by righties. That seems to bear noting as Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano, and Mitch Garver roll into town.

THE TIME IS NOW
We look forward to seeing many of you at the viewing party for tonight's game at Brother's in Downtown Minneapolis. It's gonna be wild. It's gonna be intense. It's gonna be loud.

But here's hoping that when it's all said and done on Friday night, Yankee Stadium is filled only with the sound of silence.

As always, Twins Daily has a live game thread for tonight's game where you can chat and follow along with other users. You can find that thread here.

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#2 AlwaysinModeration

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Posted 03 October 2019 - 10:29 PM

Love to start the postseason against a lefty.
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#3 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 06:37 AM

 

cannot wait for the game... probably going to miss most of it though. :(


#4 Gernzy

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 07:13 AM

We finished 101-61.
I see us winning this game. As long as Berrios does well we can get to Paxton.

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I bent my wookie...

#5 mike8791

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 07:49 AM

Can't wait for THE GAME!!Very interested in seeing the lineup.Kepler, Gonzales and Garver better all be in there to give Twins a chance.

 

Must express concern about Berrios instead of Odo, who pitched well in Twin's only victory this year in the Bronx.Granted he didn't fare so well at Target, but as you say Nick, this first game win is critical, particularly to a Twins team that must get this NY yoke off their back.  

 

Berrios has the tools to shut down this lineup and last 6-7 innings but does he have the mentality to pitch well in such a pressure-packed situation?His record is very sketchy here; his last playoff appearance showed how the Yank's patient lineup could get to him.No knockout blows but too many baserunners.Let's say, he would not be my first choice(or second if Pineda available).Odorizzi would have been a better choice - better down the stretch, perhaps a little more mental nfortitude.We'll see soon!

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#6 woolywoolhouse

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 07:50 AM

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#7 gunnarthor

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 08:00 AM

I imagine the FO/ownerships refusal to make significant improvements during the season to a playoff team and simply accept the #3 spot will bite us pretty hard. I don't think we match up well at Yankee stadium. I'd have felt more comfortable with a ground ball pitcher on the mound tonight. 

 

Obviously, we have a chance but we all the injuries and iffy rotation I don't think we win a game - again.:angry:

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#8 GetToKnowEm

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 08:12 AM

So excited for the game!! Still not sure if I have complete faith in the Twins winning, but watching our team in the postseason is worth every minute. They’ve got the potential to mash and have sneaky good pitching- this is their chance to show it to the world and perform. GO TWINS!

#9 spycake

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 08:31 AM

Rosters in! Arraez and Adrianza -- and no Perez.

 


#10 Badsmerf

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 08:34 AM

Has the roster been set yet? Feel a lot better about this team than past teams. As long as the starters can get through 5-6 innings, this team will always have a chance. No more Mo Rivera to contend with.
Do or do not. There is no try.

#11 spycake

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 08:36 AM

 

Has the roster been set yet?

See my post above yours, with Twitter link. :)

 

twins-roster.jpeg


#12 spycake

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 08:39 AM

Yankees roster, for those wondering:

 


#13 PopRiveter

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 09:03 AM

Sports have taught me that Yankees are not humans and do not deserve empathy or mercy. 

 

It will feel so good to my aching soul if these Twins can deliver a victory.

 

May there be blood tonight!

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#14 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 09:31 AM

I imagine the FO/ownerships refusal to make significant improvements during the season to a playoff team and simply accept the #3 spot will bite us pretty hard. I don't think we match up well at Yankee stadium. I'd have felt more comfortable with a ground ball pitcher on the mound tonight.

Obviously, we have a chance but we all the injuries and iffy rotation I don't think we win a game - again. :angry:


This team is far better on the road than at home, so I'm glad they got the 3rd seed.

#15 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 09:34 AM

 

Rosters in! Arraez and Adrianza -- and no Perez.

 

No big surprises there. Gibson makes it, which I agree with... If you get into a pinch, at least Kyle gives you some chance of pitching a couple of effective innings, even in his depleted state.

 

A bummer for Wade, though. That kid impressed me, even if his numbers don't really show it yet.

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#16 70charger

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 09:55 AM

Look for me in the nosebleeds tonight. I'll be the guy in the Twins jersey getting beer dumped on him.

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#17 SpicyGarvSauce

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 10:10 AM

This game will be 100% dictated by what Berrios the Twins get tonight.

 

May he be filthy, nasty, composed, and downright bad ass. Go Twins!

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#18 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 10:29 AM

Great lead-in to this article, punctuated by a fantastic last line. Reminds me of the novel, Moby Dick. "Call me Ismael... And I only am escaped alone to tell thee." Nicely done Nick.

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#19 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 10:29 AM

 

This game will be 100% dictated by what Berrios the Twins get tonight.

Not 100% dictated but probably no less than 75%. My take is also "how Berrios goes, so go the Twins".


#20 SQUIRREL

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 10:33 AM

 

Look for me in the nosebleeds tonight. I'll be the guy in the Twins jersey getting beer dumped on him.

Post a photo in the game thread when you get there. Photo, or it didn't happen. :)

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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But a skunkweed will always be a skunkweed and instantly recognizable. 




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