What to Watch for in A.L.D.S. Game 1 of Yankees vs. Twins

 nytimes.com  10/04/2019 19:42:53   David Waldstein

The Yankees open their 2019 postseason against the American League Central champion Minnesota Twins.

ImageYankee Stadium was prepped for Game 1 of an American League division series on Friday.
Yankee Stadium was prepped for Game 1 of an American League division series on Friday.CreditCreditBrad Penner/USA Today Sports, via Reuters
David Waldstein

The Yankees quest to reach their first World Series in 10 years gets underway tonight in the Bronx, where they face the powerful Minnesota Twins in Game 1 of the American League division series, a matchup of the Bomba Squad vs. the Bronx Bombers.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on MLB Network.

Twins

1. Mitch Garver, C

2. Jorge Polanco, SS

3. Nelson Cruz, DH

4. Eddie Rosario, RF

5. Miguel Sano, 3B

6. Max Kepler, CF

7. Marwin Gonzalez, LF

8. C.J. Cron, 1B

9. Luis Arraez, 2B

Jose Berrios, P

Yankees

1. DJ LeMahieu, 1B

2. Aaron Judge, RF

3. Brett Gardner, CF

4. Edwin Encarnacion, DH

5. Giancarlo Stanton, LF

6. Gleyber Torres, 2B

7. Gary Sanchez, C

8. Didi Gregorius, SS

9. Gio Urshela, 3B

James Paxton, P

  • It is the Yankees first playoff game since last years disappointing loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the division series, and it comes against a familiar playoff foe. The Yankees and the Twins have met five times in the postseason, beginning in 2003, and the Yankees have advanced each time, winning 13 of 15 games.

  • But this year, the two teams appear more evenly matched. The Yankees won 103 games to capture the A.L. East by seven games, and the Twins won 101 and took the Central by eight games.

  • Both teams slug the twine out of the baseball. In a year in which baseballs flew out of stadiums at a mind-numbing pace (four teams surpassed the previous record of 267 home runs, set by the Yankees in 2018), these are the two biggest mashers in the history of the sport. Minnesota hit 307 homers to establish the new single-season record, and the Yankees were only one behind.

  • The Twins were led by slugger Nelson Cruz, who hit 41 long balls, but they also set a record with eight players hitting at least 20 homers. Eddie Rosario gave the Bomba Squad its nickname back in May, and he hit 32 as the Twins surpassed the Yankees old record before September even began.

  • The Yankees, despite playing without the sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge for much of the season because of injuries, still set the club record for homers and set an M.L.B. mark of their own, as 14 players hit at least 10 homers. Gleyber Torres smacked 38 to lead the club, and Gary Sanchez added 34 while Brett Gardner set a personal record with 28.

  • Back in July, the Yankees and the Twins played what might have been the best game of the year: A 10-inning, back-and-forth slugfest that ended with Aaron Hickss spectacular diving catch in center field.

  • Both managers skillfully navigated their seasons. Aaron Boone kept his team focused and coherent despite a staggering number of injuries, and he gets credit for giving the sluggers their Savages nickname during a rant aimed at the home plate umpire Brennan Miller in July. Rocco Baldelli of the Twins also did an excellent job in his first managerial stint. Since taking over for Paul Molitor before this season, Baldelli led the Twins to only their second 100-win season, finishing one shy of the club record of 102.

Check back here before first pitch for live coverage and commentary before and during Game 1.

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