The New York Yankees have always had the Minnesota Twins’ number. Historically, the Yankees have dominated the series in the regular season as well as the playoffs.
I’m not here to put a damper on this Minnesota Twins parade. I hope more than anything that Minnesota can get the monkey off their backs against the New York Yankees. I want to see them succeed. However, history tells us they will have a tough time doing so against the Bronx Bombers.
The two teams first played way back in 1903, when the Twins were still the Washington Senators. Since then, the teams have played a total of 1880 games against one another. New York has won 1116 of those games, with the Twins/Senators winning 764. Leaving the Twins with a .400 win percentage all-time versus the Yankees.
Looking at that vast scope of games is interesting, but it does not necessarily illustrate a point. I would say all of you reading this were not alive to see the 1903 Washington Senators play the New York Yankees. Thus, those games are somewhat irrelevant within the scope of the game on Tuesday. So, I narrowed the information a little.
The year 2000 seemed like a good starting point as the were Yankees winning the World Series and the Twins were on the cusp of American League Central dominance. In that 17-year span, the Yankees commanded the series between the teams. Of the 125 regular season games in that time, New York won 85 of them. The Twins have won only 40, putting their win percentage at .320 since 2000.
Minnesota has fared much worse against New York when it comes to postseason play. The two have only played four playoff series against one another, all since 2003. The Yankees have beaten the Twins in all four of those series.
In 2003, the Twins finished 90-72 and met the Yankees in the American League Division Series. The Twins were sporting one of their best lineups with players like Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, and Corey Koskie to name a few (The rest of the roster, for your own nostalgia). The pitching staff was even more impressive with Twins legends Brad Radke and Johan Santana on the staff. In a best of five division series, the stakes for every game were extremely high.
Game one saw Santana only pitch four innings, but Minnesota was able to win the game with the help of the bullpen. LaTroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado led the way on the bump en route to a 3-1 Twins win.
Despite Minnesota’s star-studded arms, they went on to lose the next three games to New York. The Twins offense was stifled by notorious Yankee pitchers and steroid users Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens. In the three games they lost, Minnesota only managed three total runs. New York went on to lose in the World Series to the then Florida Marlins.
The following season, the two teams met again in the ALDS. Minnesota returned almost an identical roster as the year before. Their one major addition was closer Joe Nathan, who, as we know, is arguably the greatest closer in Twins history. In the offseason, the Yankees were able to bolster their lineup by adding two more steroid users in Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield.
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Unlike 2003, the 2004 series was full of offense, besides game one. In that game, Johan Santana pitched seven strong innings in a 2-0 Minnesota victory.
Game two saw Brad Radke struggle at Yankee Stadium, giving up five earned runs. Minnesota was able to battle New York to twelve innings in that game, ultimately losing 7-6.
A loss in game three led to a do or die game four in the Metrodome. Santana pitched on short rest and only lasted five innings, but he fanned seven Yankees in the process. That game also went to extra innings, ending in a loss for Minnesota 6-5 in 11 innings. The Yankees then blew a 3-0 series lead to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.
Minnesota and New York would not meet again until 2009, as the Twins won the AL Central with a 87-76 record. This was the season where Joe Mauer was entrenched in a batting title battle with New York’s Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. Mauer not only won the batting title that season, he was also voted MVP.
Needless to say, the Twins were outmatched heading in to the postseason. The Yankees had gone 103-59 during the regular season with their usual band of characters. Minnesota was overpowered by New York’s fantastic pitching and offense and swept 3-0. The Yankees went on to win the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The final time they met was the next year in 2010. Minnesota came into that series with a 94-68 record, the Yankees had only went 95-67 that regular season. Despite a seemingly even matchup on paper, the Twins were still swept 3-0. The offense was halted twice in the late innings by perennial Twin killer Mariano Rivera. New York lost in the ALCS to the Texas Rangers and the Twins have not been to the playoffs since.
So what factor does history play in the Wild Card Game? The answer, fair readers, is nothing, at least that should be the answer. This is a completely different Minnesota team, and the past Yankee woes should not factor into their psyche. Even the Twins 2-4 record against the Yankees in the 2017 regular season does not matter. This is only one game, and the Twins should forget about the regular season, and play for this one game.
The Minnesota Twins and their fans have been on the wrong side of history with the New York Yankees for as long as I have been alive. The Wild Card game is their chance to erase all of that and begin writing their own history. A history that begins with them defeating the New York Yankees.