The Minnesota Twins are now in a familiar position after an 8-2 loss at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, down 2-0 in the series and a game away from losing to the Yankees yet again
The Minnesota Twins beat the New York Yankees in the Bronx on Oct. 5—fifteen years ago. Johan Santana shutout the Yankees for seven innings to lead Minnesota to a 2-0 win in Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS.
That’s the last time Minnesota has managed to win a game off the Yankees in the postseason. After another 8-2 loss on Saturday to fall behind 0-2 in the best-of-five series, the Twins are 0-12 against the Yankees in the playoffs since 2004.
They have to find a way to reverse that history, and quick. The Twins, winners of 101 games during the regular season, one off the franchise record, are now a game away from having their season end at the hands of the Bronx Bombers yet again.
This series was supposed to be a matchup between offensive juggernauts. The Twins hit 306 home runs in the regular season, the Yankees 305, the two highest single-season totals in MLB history. The Yankees led the league with 943 runs scored; the Twins were second with 939. The Twins had the second-highest batting average at .270, behind only the Houston Astros. The Yankees were fourth at .267.
But through the opening two games, it’s only been the Yankees bats that have come to play. The Twins are hitting .197 with six runs scored. They failed to hit a home run on Saturday, something they did only seven times over the last 27 games of the regular season. Eddie Rosario, the team leader with 109 RBI, is hitting .111 with no RBI through two games. Max Kepler, who hit a career-high 36 home runs during the regular season, is hitless in six at-bats.
But hope isn’t lost for the Twins just yet. With all the firepower in their lineup, they can start to get hot at any moment and outscore any opponent. They’ve also been through adversity before. Back in August, after losing three of four to the Cleveland Indians, the Twins lead in the AL Central, once as high as 11 games, completely disappeared. They rebounded to win 30 of their final 44 games, tying the Astros for the best record in the American League, and win the division by eight games.
The Twins are turning to Jake Odorizzi to start Game 3 on Monday at home in Target Field. Since July 24, Odorizzi has a 2.89 ERA in 10 starts and has given up just two home runs, a perfect antidote to the powerful Yankees lineup. The Twins are 8-2 in those games. But that start on July 24, when he surrendered nine runs on 10 hits in only four innings, was at home against the Yankees.
Odorizzi does have better memories of facing the Yankees. On May 4, he shutout the New York lineup on two hits over six innings. Current Yankees hitters are collectively batting just .215 in their careers against the Twins right-hander.
Eight teams in the divisional round era have come back from a 0-2 series deficit to advance. The Twins only have to look to the other dugout for a reminder that it can be done; the Yankees were the last team to do it, in 2017 against the Indians.
But if the Twins want to join that group they have to start swinging their bats like they’ve done all season. If not, it will be another early postseason exit at the hands of the Yankees, just like it’s been every time for the last 15 years.