Last year at this time the Minnesota Twins had lost over 100 games and would find themselves watching the October playoff magic from their TVs. This year, things have turned up for the Twins, who ended 85-77, placing 2nd in the American League Central.
On Oct. 3 the Twins will face off against the New York Yankees in a single elimination game in the wild-card round. The odds are stacked against them – who under the former single team wild card system would not have made the playoffs. But the new rules from 2012 played into the Twins favor and they should do whatever they can with the opportunity.
The Yankees, however, have a history of toppling the Twins playoff hopes year after year. In the last 15 seasons, the Twins and Yankees have faced off in 4 playoff series: 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010. In each series the Yankees proved victorious.
This season the Twins are 2-4 against the Yankees after having recently gone 0-3 in September in a series against the team. After all, the Twins did look hot when the season started back in April, but the momentum from the surprise start did not last.
Hope for the Twins rests in both new and familiar names. The young Byron Buxton has finally lived up to the hype that surrounded him when the Twins selected him with the second pick of the 2012 draft. Plus his defensive skills are on another level. But then there is the classic Minnesota name, Joe Mauer, that has revived its relevance as of late. Mauer may not be hitting home runs, but his bat is getting hot, and expect it to keep up with the Yankees.
On the mound, the Twins plan to start Ervin Santana who is currently playing through his first All-Star season since 2008. Regardless of how great his season started, things have slowed down for Santana. The Yankees plan to start Luis Severino, a young pitcher with a high-speed fastball. However, Severino has never played in the postseason before.
Santana is 0-5 over his career in Yankee Stadium and gave up two runs in 5²/₃ innings during his only start in New York this season. Its Santana’s age and experience that will help keep the Twins on track. He has played against the Yankees in the playoffs before, having gone 1-0 in 2005 and 1-1 in 2009 while playing with the Angles in the postseason.
Regardless of how Tuesday night’s game plays out, the winner will advance to play the American Leagues top seed, the Cleveland Indians. Game one will take place on Thursday, October 5th. Having won over 100 games on the year, the Indians will be a major threat to either the Twins or Yankees.
The odds are stacked against the Twins, and even more so if they would be to play the Indians next. In a lot of ways, the postseason does not look bright for the Twins, but for a team coming back from losing over one hundred games, even a playoff appearance should be tallied as a huge success.
So do you believe in miracles? Ervin Santana does.