NEW YORK — A common narrative regarding the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees is past postseason history.
But both sides believe what unfolded in four previous American League Division Series and in one wild-card game hold little significance to this year, especially when both teams won more than 100 games during the regular season and powered their way into the postseason.
The fifth ALDS meeting and perhaps the most evenly matched between the teams begins Friday night when the Twins visit Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees beat the Twins in the ALDS in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010 and then rallied from an early three-run deficit to claim an 8-4 victory in the 2017 wild-card game to win in New York. The Yankees have won 10 straight postseason meetings against the Twins and 13 of the 15 playoff games between the teams.
“Teams change,” New York manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday. “All I know is we’re up against a really good opponent. So, I don’t at all get caught up in the history of it, honestly, just because I think there’s so many guys that have nothing to do with some of that, and we know we’re playing a great team.
“But we’re also confident that if we play our game, we have a chance to advance. It’s as simple as that, but we know we have to play well to do that.”
In the previous postseason meetings, the Twins never entered with more than 94 wins. But this year, Minnesota won 101, highlighted by a lineup known as the “Bomba Squad” that set a major league record with 307 homers, one more than the Yankees.
New York controlled the AL East from June 15 on and completed a second straight 100-win season despite having a major-league-record-setting 30 players spend time on the injured list. That included sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, who were limited to 18 and 102 games, respectively.
The Yankees finished with a team-record 306 homers with a major-league-record 14 players in double digits.
Minnesota finished with the second-most wins in franchise history, one behind the 1965 team that lost the World Series in seven games. The Twins saw five players (Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, and Mitch Garver) hit at least 30 apiece, and 11 players reached double-digit homers.
The power display resulted in at least a share of first place in the AL Central for all but one day from April 27 on.
“I think we’ve had to answer a lot of questions from people that are worried about what has happened in the past,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I’ve said earlier this week, and I’ll say it again, I don’t care about what’s happened here in the past. I don’t care about anything except what goes on with our guys, starting this Friday, and this series is really all that matters.
“Nothing that’s ever happened here before or in Minnesota or anywhere else previously is going to affect any of our players in any way.”
Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.68 ERA) will make his first postseason start for Minnesota in Game 1. Berrios matched or set career highs with starts (32) and innings (200 1/3) and finished with 195 strikeouts.
He ended the season by allowing two runs on six hits in six innings last week at Kansas City.
Berrios took the loss in the wild-card game two years ago when he allowed a two-run homer to Judge among five hits in three innings. He did not oppose the Yankees this season and is 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA in three regular-season starts against New York.
James Paxton (15-6, 3.82 ERA) will make his postseason debut for the Yankees after ending the season with 10 straight wins. He exited after the first inning in Texas on Sept. 27 due to soreness in his left glute muscle, but an MRI came back clean.
Paxton is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in six career starts against Minnesota.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)