And the Yankees are taking on a familiar foe in the first round. The Minnesota Twins. However, these Twins are without one of their M&M men: Justin Morneau. Delmon Young stepped up this year and will be their clean-up hitter. The other M, Joe Mauer, couldn’t quite duplicate his MVP season last year but still is the most dangerous hitter on the team.
The Yankees will rely on Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez for the bulk of their production, and then hope for the best from a sub-par Derek Jeter and a hobbling Mark Teixeira.
Head to Head:
The Yankees beat the Twins four times in six games back in May and haven’t played them since then. The scoring was pretty even, but the Yankees narrowly ousted the Twins, 24-21.
Game 1: CC Sabathia vs. Francisco Liriano
The Yankees have the edge in this matchup, which is why I think oddsmakers consider the Yankees the AL favorites. Sabathia had the better season, not by much, but it should be a great matchup between two southpaws.
Game 2: Andy Pettitte vs. Carl Pavano
I hate to admit it, but I favor the Twins in Game 2. Pettitte’s last two starts after returning from the disabled list makes him a question mark. Pavano, on the other hand, consistently went deep into games down the stretch.
Game 3: Brian Duensing vs. Phil Hughes
This one’s a tossup. Hughes is making his first career postseason start, and Duensing was great in the rotation for the final two months. However, the Yankees did beat Duensing in the first round last year.
Game 4 (if necessary): Nick Blackburn vs. Sabathia
Game 5 (if necessary): Pettitte vs. Liriano
Roster Notes: Here’s the Yankees roster. Notable players left off: Javier Vazquez, Ivan Nova and Chad Gaudin.
I can’t say I’m as confident as I was last year when the Yankees finished with 103 wins in the regular season, but I still consider them the favorites. They’ve beaten the Twins so much in the past decade and it’s just too hard to ignore that history.