MINNESOTA TWINS (84-77)
at NEW YORK YANKEES (91-70)
American League Wild Card Game – Yankee Stadium – Bronx, NY
First pitch: Tuesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Minnesota +205, New York -225, Total: 7.5
Both the Twins and the Yankees will be hoping to move on to the AL Divisional Series with a victory on Tuesday.
The Twins and Yankees were both involved in some serious battles for positioning towards the end of the year, as Minnesota was fighting to hold off every other playoff hopeful in the American League and New York was doing everything it could to take the top spot in the AL East. For the Twins, the mission was completed. The Twins are in the AL Wild Card Game and have a chance to live another day. As for the Yankees, things didn’t go as well. Two games ended up separating Boston and New York, which has to be somewhat crushing for the Yankees. But the team should, however, feel pretty good about its chances of moving on anyway. The Yankees were 4-2 against the Twins this season and they recently swept them in a three-game set in the Bronx in the middle of September. New York improved to a ridiculous 8-1 against Minnesota at Yankee Stadium over the past three seasons with those three wins. The starters in this gigantic Tuesday night matchup are going to be RHP Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA, 167 K) for the Twins and RHP Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA, 230 K) for the Yankees. One trend that will have the Twins feeling confident in this one is the fact that they are 26-19 against the money line in road games versus teams that average 0.6 errors per game or fewer on the season. The Yankees, however, are an impressive 72-50 against the money line over the past two seasons versus teams with catchers that allow 0.5 or fewer stolen bases per game in the second half of the season. 3B Miguel Sano (Shin) is a question mark coming into this one, as the slugger just got off the DL and had to leave Sunday’s game against Detroit early.
The Twins are sending Ervin Santana to the hill on Tuesday and the righty has been their best pitcher all season. Santana’s ERA was under the 3.50 mark for a second straight season for Minnesota, but that obviously doesn’t matter now. Santana has one game to make his mark for the Twins on Tuesday, and he should be feeling pretty good about his chances of doing that. He has two postseason starts under his belt, which is two more than Luis Severino has. Santana’s goal will be to go toe-to-toe with the Yankees’ youngster in this one, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility. He pitched well in his last meeting with New York, allowing just two earned runs in 5.2 innings of work in a 2-1 loss on Sep. 18. Another outing like that would definitely be fine for the Twins here. As for the Minnesota offense, the guys that must show up in this one are 2B Brian Dozier, 1B Joe Mauer, OF Eddie Rosario, and 3B Miguel Sano (if he plays). All of them have the ability to come through for the Twins in this game, but it’s just a matter of who is going to step up in this high-pressure situation. Mauer is a pretty safe bet to do so, as he has hit a solid .286 in nine playoff games in his career.
The Yankees would consider this season a gigantic failure if they were to lose this game on Tuesday, so there is definitely going to be some serious pressure on all of these players to perform. The guy that will, however, be feeling the most pressure is Severino. The youngster has never started in anything close to a game like this, but New York is confident that its ace is ready for the moment. Severino was incredible this season, allowing two or fewer earned runs in 20 of his 31 starts for the Yankees. He did, however, allowed three earned runs in three innings of work against the Twins on Sep. 20. If he brings any of that same stuff on Tuesday then the Yankees are going to be sent home here. They need him to go at least six or seven innings and it’d be hard for them to win if he doesn’t allow three or fewer earned runs in that span. On offense, the team will be counting on their mix of young studs and veterans here. OF Aaron Judge had a good case to be the MVP this season, but the team is going to need him to show up here. The same goes for C Gary Sanchez, as both are incredible players but will be playing in their first postseason games. Veterans like OFs Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner will, however, be counted on here as well. Ellsbury has hit .299 with 11 doubles and 17 RBI in his postseason career. That type of production can’t be ignored.