MINNESOTA TWINS (78-71)
at NEW YORK YANKEES (82-67)
First pitch: Monday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Minnesota +155, New York -165, Total: 9.0
In what just might be a preview of the AL Wild Card Game, the Yankees host the Twins on Monday.
If the season were to end today, the Twins would be facing the Yankees in the American League Wild Card Game. New York would play the role of host in that game, so this is going to be a pretty good look at what that one might look like. And while it won’t be a do-or-die contest for either team, both teams could really use a victory in this one. The Twins are still fighting to hold off the Angels for the second wild card spot and the Yankees are still doing everything they can to win the AL East. They’re a few games behind the Red Sox currently, but the lead is far from insurmountable right now. The starters in this big Monday night matchup are going to be RHP Ervin Santana (15-7, 3.35 ERA, 158 K) for Minnesota and LHP Jaime Garcia (5-9, 4.35 ERA, 116 K) for New York. Garcia spent about a week with the Twins this season, so it should be fun for him to pitch against some of these guys. Santana has, however, been incredible this season, so it won’t be easy for the lefty to outduel him.
The Twins are playing some solid baseball right now, as they have won six of their past 10 games and are currently slated to be playing in the postseason. A lot can change in the next few weeks, though. Minnesota needs to keep winning games and that all starts with this one on Monday. Ervin Santana will be out there for them here and the righty is coming off of a very good performance against the Padres. He faced San Diego on Sep. 13 and allowed no earned runs in six innings of work. Santana also struck out seven in that game, so he is clearly feeling pretty good with his stuff right now. He has not, however, faced the Yankees this season, and this offense can be tough to pitch to sometimes. He will not want to hang many pitches high or New York’s sluggers will go yard. On offense, OF Byron Buxton is a guy to keep an eye on in this game. Buxton was 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBI against the Blue Jays on Sunday, so he should be feeling pretty confident here. Buxton is also one of the league’s best fielders, so he will almost certainly have an impact in one way or another.
The Yankees are coming off of a loss, but this team is still rolling right now. New York has been on fire recently, but the problem is that Boston has been as well. The Red Sox just have not been losing, which is making it increasingly more likely that the Yankees will only be playing in the AL Wild Card Game at this point. Still, the Bronx Bombers need to stay the course. They’ll want to be as hot as possible when the playoffs eventually do start, so a big performance from Garcia would be nice for this team. Garcia has pitched pretty well in his last few trips to the mound, as he has allowed only two earned runs over his past 9.2 innings of work. If he can give the Yankees five or six innings of one or two-run ball then they’ll be ecstatic. On offense, New York will count on guys like OF Aaron Judge and C Gary Sanchez to produce at the plate. Both guys have tremendous power and could spark their team with only one swing of the bat on Monday.