The Minnesota Twins travel to the Bronx to face the Yankees tonight in game one of a three-game series with the Yankees. This could very well end up being a preview of the American League wild-card playoff game as the Yankees currently hold the top spot and the Twins are occupying the second in the chase for the wild card. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from Yankee Stadium in New York.
Minnesota Twins +130 at New York Yankees -150
Ervin Santana (15-7 3.35 ERA) vs Jamie Garcia (5-9 4.35 ERA)
The line of people that have doubted the Minnesota Twins this season could easily stretch from the Twin Cities to New York City at this point. Just about nobody outside on Minnesota saw the Twins as real contenders coming into this season. The Twins surprised just about everyone in the first half of the season as they were right in the mix for the American League Central Division race. Then they made a move to pick up starter Jamie Garcia form the Atlanta Braves, and it looked like the Twins were all in this year on an improbable playoff push.
Then they had a rough week and decided at the last minute to back off that plan and flipped Jamie Garcia to the Yankees for prospects. They also traded away All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler, who was leading the American League in saves at the time, to the Washington Nationals, for more prospects. All signs pointed to looking towards next year with a promising young core of talent. But then something happened. The Twins kept winnings.
While the Cleveland Indians has pulled away with the Central Division title, the Twins have been occupying that second wild-card spot seemingly all-season long. Entering play today the Twins hold a two-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for that playoff spot with most of the other contenders in the AL slowly falling by the wayside. The last six weeks have been very exciting in the AL as several teams have gotten hot and taken a run at the wild card. First, it was the Kansas City Royals, then Tampa Bay and Baltimore, then the Mariners got hot, followed now by the Angels. The one constant? The Minnesota Twins have just kept plugging away and staying in the chase. And now with just a handful of games left they are poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Tonight, they will send their ace to the mound to try and help cement that playoff spot, Ervin Santana.
Ervin Santana is not a stereotypical ace. He isn’t going to strike out 300, and he isn’t going to compete for the Cy Young award, but what he does do, and has done all season long, is give his team a chance to win every fifth day. And that is all the Twins have needed from him this year, as Santana has rolled up 15 wins, good for 7th in the American League and his 3.35 ERA is ranked 6th. Santana has won his last four decisions dating back to August 2nd and in his last start gave a very “Santana” type of outing, 6 innings, 3 hits, and no runs in a victory over the San Diego Padres. He isn’t going to overpower you or shut you down, but you can bet he is going to give his team a chance to win the game.
Remember that pitcher the Twins traded away that signaled the “end” of the Twins season, Jaime Garcia? Well, he takes the mound tonight for the Yankees. Garcia has been shaky at best since the flurry of trades that ended up with him in pinstripes. Garcia has an ERA north of five since the move and has struggled to get deep into games. In his six starts with the Yankees, the longest outing for Garcia has been 5.2 innings, and he has gone less than five innings three times. He is 0-2 on the season with New York, and the Twins are looking like maybe dumping Garcia was the right move as he has been mostly ineffective in the American League. You can expect to see a heavy dose of that powerful Yankees bullpen anytime Garcia takes the mound.
This is a close matchup between two good teams. Barring a complete collapse by one, or both of these teams, this will be the matchup we see in the one game AL wild-card game next month. However unlikely, the Twins have earned this opportunity and need to acquit themselves well in this series to have the confidence to go into Yankee Stadium in October and walk out as winners. This line seems a little off to me as the starting pitching matchup would lean strongly towards the Twins. The Yankees are the hotter team, winners of 7 out of their last 9, but it’s not as if the Twins aren’t playing well at the moment. They blew out Toronto last night 13-7, and have won 4 out of 6 themselves.
To me, this game is a coin flip. I think this should be closer to an even money number, so I am forced to jump on the value side, and back the Twins getting a good price in this one. Give me the Twins as road underdogs in a big one tonight from the Bronx. I expect Santana to be decent, 6-7 innings of one or two run ball, and I expect Garcia to not make it past five innings yet again.
The Bet: TWINS +142