Series Preview: Yankees vs. Twins

Ah, the Twins. The Yankees’ favorite whipping boys. Including the 2009 and 2010 ALDS matchups between the two teams, the Yankees are 23-4 against Minnesota since 2009. That’s what happens when a pitch to co

WHERE THEY’VE BEEN:
ntact team meets a juggernaut offense.
The Twins started off the year in ugly fashion, getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles and scoring just five runs in the process. They followed that by winning two of three at home against the Angels, including some comebacks against the Angels. That series, they managed to score 17 runs (1; 6; and 10 respectively). It seems, though, that they’re back to their usual low run-scoring ways. In their first two games against the Texas Rangers (both losses), they scored just three runs combined, but were able to scratch across three in the series finale yesterday.

WHERE THEY’LL BE:

After four games in New York, the Twins fly down to Tampa for a three game set, then go back home to face the Red Sox. While the Sox are down on paper, they’re still a solid team and this stretch of the season, however early, could be disastrous for the Twins.

WHERE THEY ARE:

Josh Willingham has started off his Twins career well, leading the American League in homers, average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+ going into Sunday’s game against Texas. Denard Span, too, has had a hot start, bu that’s about it on the offensive end. On the other side of the ball, only Anthony Swarzak has put up some respectable starts.

PITCHING MATCHUPS:

Today’s game will feature an old friend, Carl Pavano, squaring off with Freddy Garcia. Fun fact: Since/including 2009, Carl Pavano has thrown the 12th most innings in Major League Baseball (656). After “four” years and 145.2 innings pitched as a Yankee, Pavano’s thrown 199.1, 221, and 222 IP in ’09-’11. Check out Mike’s scouting report on Crazy Carl here.

Tuesday will be a lefty/lefty matchup with CC Sabathia squaring off against the fallen-from-grace Francisco Liriano. He’s coming off a year in which he threw just 134.1 innings and walked 5.06 per nine innings. This year has not started off much better, as he’s given up 15 hits and 12 runs in 9.0 innings while walking five and surrendering two home runs.

Jason Marquis will make his season debut–and Twins debut–on Wednesday against Hiroki Kuroda, who’ll be looking to follow up his excellent Yankee Stadium debut. Marquis had a relatively successful streak from 2004-2009, racking up a 100 ERA+ in 1177.1 innings (sort of swayed by an ugly 74 mark in 2006; every other year was between 100-116). 2010-2011 weren’t as successful, as Marquis has thrown just 190.2 innings and posted a 77 ERA+.

As of now, the Twins haven’t announced their Thursday starter (I’ll update this if/when they do), but the Yankees will trot out Phil Hughes on Thursday and that’ll be something to watch. Hughes has been inconsistent at best in his first two starts and with Andy Pettitte climbing the minor league ladder and Michael Pineda set to throw in a minor league game soon, the clock may be ticking on Phil Hughes’ starting career. Considering the way the Yankees have handled the Twins, and the way both teams look right now, there’s a chance that this series may not be all that interesting. This start, though, will be something to watch. I’m not quite ready to give up on Hughes’s starting career, but I’m getting closer and closer to that edge. The same things that were problems years ago are problems now: inconsistent secondary and tertiary offerings…command issues…the inability to put hitters away with two strikes. Please, Phil, prove me wrong.

Though it’s hard to win three out of four games, this is an instance in which the Yankees should. Their bats are starting to get into the swing of things, literally, and the Twins aren’t exactly candidates to change that. Seeing the Twins may also help CC Sabathia find his missing fastball command. After this four game set, the Yanks will ship up to Boston for their first meeting with the Red Sox.