Minnesota actually came into that game a half game ahead of the Yanks, but that series sent them spinning in opposite directions. With three games decided by one run, and the other by two runs, it could have easily gone the other way. Instead, the series was a major part of a 9 game winning streak for the Yanks whereas the Twins lost 6 in a row and were at .500 as recently as June 29th. At 43-40, the Twins are 1.5 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central but 5.5 games behind the Bombers in the Wild Card standings.
Taking the hill tonight and looking to avenge his poorest start since Opening Day will be CC Sabathia. Despite striking out 8 in 5 2/3, the big fella got tagged for 6 earned runs and the loss last Thursday against the Mariners. He followed up that clunker on Opening Day with 7 2/3 of shutout ball, so perhaps he's got another bounceback in him.
Twins righthander Scott Baker is coming off a strong June, during which he produced quality starts in five out of six tries, and went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA and a 0.966 WHIP. That might be slightly less impressive when you consider those starts came against the Indians, A's ,Cubs, Brewers, Astros and Royals, but you've still got to get the job done. He's at 6-6 with a 4.99 ERA on the year and in his two previous starts against the Yankees (both in 2006), he's 2-0 with a 1.50.
Frankie Cervelli gets the start behind the plate tonight. Sabathia has a 51 to 14 K/BB ratio in 8 games with Cervelli as opposed to 23/19 in 7 games with Posada back there. Brett Gardner gets the start in center with Damon and Swisher on either side.
The Yanks arrive the HHH Metrodome having won 8 of their last 10 against the Twins and hoping they can catapult themselves to another winning streak. They've had their struggles in the building, however, going only 8-11 there since 2004. Barring a meeting in the playoffs this will be the last series the Yanks play there, so John Sterling will no longer have to refer to the outfield wall as "the baggy".
Don't forget that the game starts at 8, like I did until just now.
[Tonight's song comes to you from the Minneapolis-based hip hop group Atmosphere. They've got a pretty extensive song catalog, so if you are a fan of the genre, I would highly recommend checking it out.]
They've arrived, with the excitement of a newborn,
Came to join the main event and fight against the lukewarm.
They've arrived, with nothing but their word and their history,
Take a can of paint and try to decorate the dignity.