To be clear, the outcome of any five-game baseball series is, essentially, random. If you brought back the Washington Nationals and put them in a five-game set against any team currently in the playoffs, they’d have a halfway decent chance to win. Five games is small. Five games is nothing. (The Yankees were actually 1–2 against the Nationals this year.) Strange things happen. Now that that’s said: It’s hard to fathom a playoff team the Yankees would have more of an edge against than the Twins.
Typically, playoff previews feature little matchup comparisons, those “Offense. Edge: Yankees” things that tell you nothing about the games themselves, but are kind of fun to read. There isn’t a single such aspect of this series, with the possible exception of defense, in which the Yankees don’t have a profound advantage. The Twins are missing Justin Morneau, their second-best hitter, and their rotation features Brian Duensing (tonight’s starter), Nick Blackburn, and — get this — Carl Pavano. The Twins are exhausted from last night’s epic AL Central tiebreaker win over the Tigers, and, all told, probably a little hungover. The Yankees played the Twins seven times this year and won every game. (They turned their season around with three walk-off wins against the Twins at home back in May.) Every sign points to this being a mismatch.
But again: A five-game series is a fickle beast. All it takes is one Twins victory in the Bronx to turn it around immediately, to send the Yankees back to the emporium of madness that is the HHH Metrodome needing a win. Usually, teams like the Twins, that have stormed to late-season comebacks and who have essentially been playing playoff games for a month, are the scariest ones to run into come post-season time. They are rampaging gnats. They are way too fired up. And the Yankees haven’t really played a game that mattered for almost two months.
Still. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and game-one starter CC Sabathia are making more this season than the entire Twins payroll — and that’s including Morneau, who takes up a fifth of the Twins’ entire salary structure and isn’t even playing. We know money isn’t everything, but, man, you can’t lose to these guys, can you? Can you?