The Minnesota Twins are road underdogs against the New York Yankees in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card game (8 p.m. ET, ESPN, WatchESPN). The Twins have a wretched recent history against New York, but they don’t appear fazed by the challenge.
Then again, when you make the playoffs one year after losing 103 games — as Minnesota did — confidence will tend to skyrocket.
The Yankees won the season series against the Twins in 2017 four games to two, including a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium from Sept. 18 to Sept. 20. That success for New York is not new.
In four of Minnesota’s previous five trips to the playoffs (2003, 2004, 2009, 2010), the Yankees eliminated them in the AL Division Series, winning 12 of the 14 games. Since the start of the 2003 season, New York is 84-33 (.718) against the Twins, a 116-win pace over a full season. That includes a 42-14 (.750) mark at home for the Yankees.
Joe Mauer was on the 2009 and 2010 Twins teams that were swept in the ALDS by the Yankees. Mauer had a hit in all six playoff games against New York, hitting .333/.407/.375, but he’s the only Twins player remaining from those years.
“Really to this team it doesn't mean a whole lot. I'm probably the only one that it means a little bit more maybe,” Mauer told reporters on Monday. “It's a different team, and they've got a different team over there. So we're looking forward to tomorrow night and then see what happens.”
Joe Girardi, who beat the Twins in the ALDS in his second and third seasons as manager of the Yankees on his way to a World Series championship in 2009, agrees with Mauer.
“I don't look back on history because the faces have changed so much,” Girardi said Monday. “The only guy that is really there since the first time we played them in the playoffs is Joe Mauer, and the only guy for us is probably Gardy and CC. So the faces have changed.”