The New York Yankees have been a monster under the bed at night to the Minnesota Twins. Whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs, the Yankees vs Twins have resulted in the Pinstripes crushing the Twins’ big dreams, especially in Yankee Stadium. The two squads meet again this year in the ALDS, but this isn’t your father’s Twins team.
A team not known for power, Minnesota broke the Major League record for home runs in a single season, albeit with doctored baseballs. The Twins finished with 307 home runs, just one more than the Yankees. Home runs will be a factor, as they have been all season, but the two team’s pitching will be the difference-maker.
You don’t need another preview right now, though. Here’s a look at five times the Yankees squashed the Twins’ postseason hopes and dreams.
Yankees vs. Twins: 2003 ALDS
One of the trademarks of the Yankees victories over the Twins over the years has been the late-inning rally. Such was the case in the second game of the 2003 ALDS.
The Twins captured Game 1, 3-1 and sent their ace Brad Radke to face Andy Pettitte in Game 2. The Yankees left-hander outlasted his opponent, limiting the Twins to a run and four hits over seven innings in a 1-1 ballgame. He also struck out 10 hitters.
The Yankees’ Alfonso Soriano singled to snap the tie and Derek Jeter reached on an error with both runners moving into scoring position. Jason Giambi broke the game open with a 2-run single to center for a 4-1 lead.
The next move was a simple one. Yankees manager Joe Torre sent for Mariano Rivera for a six-out save. Rivera retired the side in the 8th inning on three ground ball outs and pitched a 1-2-3 9th to even the series at a game apiece.
The Yankees won the next two games to quickly end the series.
Yankees vs Twins: 2004 ALDS Game 2
Just as they had done in the previous postseason, the Twins won the first game of the 2004 ALDS. The Twins’ confidence rose with a 3-1 in lead in Game 2, but it “Deja vu all over again”. Once more, Radke took the hill for Minnesota and once again he faltered.
This time, however, Rivera couldn’t record a five-out save. Called on with two on and out in the top of the 8th inning, Rivera gave up an RBI single to Justin Morneau and a ground-rule double to Corey Koskie to knot the game at 5-5.
Twins’ closer Joe Nathan, one of the best at his job in his era, worked a relatively quiet 11th inning but he soon learned that the Yankees were not afraid of him.
After striking out John Olerud, Nathan issued walks to Miguel Cairo and Jeter to put the tying and winning runs on base. A-Rod followed with a blast to left-center that one-hopped the warning track and went up over the fence in left-center. The ground-rule double tied the game and moved the winning run, Jeter, to third base.
To set up a force at any base, Sheffield received an intentional walk and lefty J.C. Romero was called upon to face the left-handed-hitting Hideki Matsui. “Godzilla” wasted no time, lining the first pitch to right field. Jacques Jones was playing shallow, but the ball was hit hard and right at him, leaving the outfielder flat-footed. Jeter easily beat the throw home for a 7-6 winner.
2004 ALDS Game 4
After winning Game 3, 8-4, the Yankees looked to put the Twins away in Game 4 at the Metrodome. But, Minnesota wasn’t going quietly. They built a 5-1 lead after five innings against Yankees starter Javier Vazquez.
It stayed that way until the 8th inning when the Yankees’ bats came alive once again.
Santana and Grant Balfour held the Yankees to five hits through the first seven innings, but new pitcher Juan Rincon had no such luck.
Sheffield reached on an infield single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. After Matsui drew a walk, Bernie Williams singled to right to plate Sheffield and cut the deficit to three. Rincon struck out Jorge Posada but Ruben Sierra hit a towering drive on a hanging 2-2 breaking pitch high into the seats in right-center to tie the game.
You could hear the life go out of the Metrodome.
The contest was still tied in the top of the 11th inning when A-Rod reached on a one-out double off of Kyle Lohse. It wasn’t as dramatic as Sierra’s home run, but the Yankees went ahead after A-Rod stole third base and Lohse uncorked a wild pitch to put the Yankees on top 6-5.
Rivera cruised through the Twins lineup in the bottom of the inning to close out another ALDS over the Twins.
Yankees vs Twins: 2009 ALDS Game 2
For the first time in five years, the Yankees and Twins once again met in the first round of the postseason. After taking Game 1, the Yankees trailed the Twins 3-1 in the bottom of the 9th in Game 2.
The Twins had taken the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the 8th inning off of Phil Hughes. One of the runs scoring as Rivera failed to strand an inherited runner.
Just as they had previously, the Yankees needed to rally against Nathan, and they did just that.
Mark Teixeira led off the inning with a single, bringing A-Rod to the plate representing the tying run.
Nathan fell behind in the count, 3-1, and then left a fastball right down the middle of the zone. A-Rod crushed it into the Yankees bullpen in right-center to tie things up. The game moved on to the 11th inning where it appeared the Twins would take the lead.
Delmon Young lined out to Teixeira for the first out of the inning. With the infield pinching in, Carlos Gomez grounded to Teixeira, who fired home for the force out. Brendan Harris then skied to Brett Gardner in centerfield to finish D-Rob’s great escape.
The Twins sent out left-hander Jose Mijares in the bottom of the 11th to switch Teixeira to the right-handed batter’s box. It wasn’t high and it wasn’t far, but Teixeira’s line-drive off the meatball Mijares served up to him cleared the left-field fence for the game-winner.
Twins starter Ervin Santana did himself no favors by walking Gardner to start the bottom of the 1st. Aaron Judge then lined a single to center and suddenly the Yankees brought the timing run to the plate.
Gary Sanchez fouled out, setting up a battle between Santana and Didi Gregorius. The count was full when Didi lined a game-tying home run into the right field seats.
Yankee Stadium erupted as if the team had just won the World Series.
In the bottom of the 2nd inning, it was Gardner’s turn to go deep. He turned on an inside pitch from Santana and lined it into the second deck in right for a 4-3 Yankees lead.
The Twins tied the game in the top of the 3rd inning but the Yankees answered right back with a big hit from an unexpected source in the bottom of the inning.
Sanchez looked like he would be stranded after two outs followed his lead-off double. But, Greg Bird…yeah, that guy…singled to right off of Jose Berrios to give the Yankees the lead back.
Consensus Rookie-of-the-Year Judge then put on a power display in the 4th. With Gardner on first base, Berrios hung a breaking pitch that Judge promptly deposited amongst the fans in the left-field seats.