The Yankees are highly likely to host the AL Wild Card Game against the Twins on Tuesday, as the Red Sox hold a magic number of two over the Yankees with four games remaining. Minnesota will be looking to exorcise its demons at Yankee Stadium, as it has historically struggled there, including getting swept in New York this season and losing two of three in NYC in 2016. But the Twins want to keep their magical season going, and have plenty of confidence heading into their potential showdown in the Bronx that will air at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.
"We're going to go there expecting a win," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "That's the mindset you have to have. We're going to a place where we recently were and weren't successful in three games, but the way things are going and the way these guys are playing right now, I like our chances. In a game-scenario, anything can go down."
Of course, the Twins have also come up short against the Yankees in their most recent postseason appearances, losing the AL Division Series against the Yankees in 2003, '04, '09 and '10. Minnesota went a combined 2-12 against New York in those four series, getting swept in 2009 and '10.
But this is a young Twins team headed to the Bronx, as only veterans Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins were around the last time Minnesota was in the postseason.
"It's a whole new team," Mauer said. "We haven't been there in so long. Myself and Brett Gardner, and maybe CC Sabathia remember it. It's a new group and a new year, and we're excited to get a chance. We'll see what happens Tuesday."
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier added that the young players don't even know the postseason history between the two clubs, which plays into their advantage, as they're not intimidated by past results.
"We know who's in front of us and what we gotta do," Dozier said. "It's one-game so there's no such thing as momentum. We'll go all out and be just fine. You can ask 99.9 percent of the guys in here and they don't even know the Yankees were our kryptonite. So that's a good thing."
The Twins will turn to their ace Ervin Santana in the Wild Card Game, as he's been their anchor this season, going 16-8 with a 3.36 ERA in 32 starts this season. He also pitched at Yankee Stadium on Minnesota's current road trip, allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 2-1 loss on Sept. 18.
If the the Twins play the Yankees, they will most likely face right-hander Luis Severino, who is in the midst of a breakout year in his third season in the Majors. The 23-year-old is 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts in 193 1/3 innings. But the Twins fared well against him on Sept. 20, as he lasted only three innings, allowing three runs on five hits in his first career start against the Twins. Mauer, in particular, had an impressive 13 pitch at-bat that ended with a bases-loaded single that effectively chased Severino.
"I think there was nothing to learn," Severino said after his start Wednesday. "That at-bat against Mauer was everything. I threw like 13 pitches, and it got me out of the game. That kind of stuff is not going to happen. That's weird, something happens like that. I just need to throw all my pitches."