The Yankees and the Twins have met in the postseason five times over the past 17 seasons, and each outcome has been the same: The triumphant squad from New York packed its pinstripes to head for the next round, while the Minnesota roster zipped its bags and scattered for the offseason.
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It could be a different story this time around, as the American League Division Series between the Twins and Yankees will feature the lineups that mashed the most home runs in Major League history. After Minnesota took that crown, 307 to 306, can the power show carry over into the postseason?
We’ll begin to find out on Friday, when left-hander James Paxton and right-hander José Berríos face off in what promises to be an epic, unforgettable ALDS.
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 1 will be tonight at 7:07 p.m. ET/6:07 p.m. CT on MLB Network.
All games telecast on MLB Network, TBS, FOX and FS1 will be available to MLB.TV subscribers who are authenticated subscribers to the applicable network through a participating pay TV provider.
What do the starting lineups look like?
Twins: The Bomba Squad will be at full force for the first time in more than a month with Max Kepler, Marwin Gonzalez and Luis Arraez all returning in time for Game 1 from injuries that sidelined them at the end of the season. The last time those three hitters were all penciled into a starting lineup was on Aug. 25. Arraez's importance to this lineup is evident in the fact that he is starting over the right-handed Jonathan Schoop against the left-handed Paxton. The only other surprise is that Eddie Rosario, normally the starting left fielder, is in right field, likely due to the smaller right-field area at Yankee Stadium.
Garver is the first catcher since John Jaso of the 2010 Rays to hit leadoff in a postseason game. Jaso did it in Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS that year against the Rangers. The only other catchers in history to bat leadoff in the Postseason are Jason Kendall (seven times for the '06 A's) and Roger Bresnahan (five times for 1905 Giants).
1) Mitch Garver, C
2) Jorge Polanco, SS
3) Nelson Cruz, DH
4) Eddie Rosario, RF
5) Miguel Sanó, 3B
6) Max Kepler, CF
7) Marwin Gonzalez, LF
8) C.J. Cron, 1B
9) Luis Arraez, 2B
Yankees: The Bombers welcome Edwin Encarnacion back to the lineup for the first time since he strained his left oblique on Sept. 12, further lengthening a formidable lineup that produced an .829 OPS this season, third in the AL behind the Astros and Twins. Manager Aaron Boone’s epic July 18 rant about his hitters being “savages in the box” centered around plate discipline, something this team has exhibited with aplomb.
1) DJ LeMahieu, 1B
2) Aaron Judge, RF
3) Brett Gardner, CF
4) Edwin Encarnacion, DH
5) Giancarlo Stanton, LF
6) Gleyber Torres, 2B
7) Gary Sánchez, C
8) Didi Gregorius, SS
9) Gio Urshela, 3B
What are the 25-man rosters?
Twins: Luis Arraez and Ehire Adrianza made it all worth the wait for the Twins, who held off on their final decisions until late but were able to include both previously injured infielders on their ALDS roster, leaving Minnesota's infield depth in the best possible shape for the first round of the postseason. That likely pushed Willians Astudillo off the roster. There were no huge surprises on the pitching end, and it will be interesting to see how Baldelli deploys his length options, including Randy Dobnak, Kyle Gibson and Devin Smeltzer, to bolster a shorthanded rotation through the series.
Infielders (7): Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, C.J. Cron, Marwin Gonzalez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sanó, Jonathan Schoop
Outfielders (3): Jake Cave, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario
Catchers (2): Jason Castro, Mitch Garver
Designated hitter (1): Nelson Cruz
Pitchers (12): José Berríos, Randy Dobnak, Tyler Duffey, Kyle Gibson, Brusdar Graterol, Zack Littell, Trevor May, Jake Odorizzi, Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, Devin Smeltzer, Cody Stashak
Yankees: The main debate within the Yankees' world appeared to be whether to carry first baseman Luke Voit, who finished the year in a 1-for-31 funk and whose power seems to have been affected by a sports hernia, over a 13th pitcher. CC Sabathia's left shoulder injury, which will keep him out at least for the ALDS, may have influenced the Yanks' decision to carry Voit as a bench bat. Boone said that Tyler Lyons "opened eyes" in September, earning him a spot as a lefty relief specialist.
Infielders (7): Edwin Encarnacion, Didi Gregorius, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Tyler Wade
Outfielders (4): Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Cameron Maybin, Giancarlo Stanton
Catchers (2): Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine
Pitchers (12): Zack Britton, Luis Cessa, Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, J.A. Happ, Tommy Kahnle, Jonathan Loaisiga, Tyler Lyons, Adam Ottavino, James Paxton, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka
Who are the starting pitchers?
Twins: Berríos (14-8, 3.68 ERA) noted before the Twins left Minneapolis that he has never pitched well at Yankee Stadium, where he allowed three runs in three innings in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game. He is also 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA in two regular-season starts in the Bronx. He had a difficult August, but he is confident that he recovered his mechanics and execution in September, in time for him to be at his best tonight.
Yankees: Paxton (15-6, 3.82 ERA) will make his postseason debut, coming off a solid first season in pinstripes that saw him complete the year with a 10-0 record and 2.51 ERA in his final 11 starts. Paxton was limited to 21 pitches in his most recent start on Sept. 27 at Texas due to nerve irritation in his left glute, but that is not expected to be a factor tonight.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Twins: For all the talk about the Yankees’ star-studded bullpen, the Twins’ homegrown relief corps was actually the best in the Major Leagues following the All-Star break, as Minnesota’s 4.8 WAR from relievers, per FanGraphs, led baseball by a wide margin in the second half. Tyler Duffey (2.50 ERA) and Sergio Romo (3.18 ERA) are the primary arms that protect leads ahead of closer Taylor Rogers (2.61 ERA, 30 saves). Trevor May (2.94 ERA) and Zack Littell (2.68 ERA) will also figure prominently into close games.
Yankees: The Yankees were the first team in Major League history to have four pitchers each make at least 60 appearances and limit opponents to a .200 average or lower, with Zack Britton (.182 in 66 games), Aroldis Chapman (.185 in 60 games), Tommy Kahnle (.200 in 72 games) and Adam Ottavino (.198 in 73 games) combining to hold batters to a .192/.289/.299 line with a 2.41 ERA. That quartet will have support from a group that includes Chad Green and J.A. Happ.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Twins: No. The Twins’ core relievers have all noted that manager Rocco Baldelli’s measured usage of the bullpen throughout the regular season has them feeling relatively fresh and ready for Friday.
Yankees: All should be rested and ready. The Yankees were the only team in the Majors not to use a reliever on three consecutive days this season.
Any injuries of note?
Twins: The Twins announced their roster on Friday, and previously injured Luis Arraez (right ankle sprain) and Ehire Adrianza (right oblique strain) were both included. Kepler (left rhomboid strain) and Gonzalez (right oblique tightness) sat out the end of the regular season but are expected to be ready for Game 1.
Yankees: Encarnacion (left oblique strain) passed his final tests to be on the ALDS roster during Thursday’s workout. Sánchez (left groin strain) has caught twice since being activated from the injured list, though he has not been behind the plate for more than six innings. Urshela (left ankle sprain) said that he’ll be ready for the ALDS, but CC Sabathia (sore left shoulder) will be left off the ALDS roster.
Who is hot and who is not?
Twins: Three of the Twins’ right-handed power bats finished the season on a high note, as Garver hit .283/.424/.696 in September, while Sanó slugged .671 with eight homers in the final month and Cruz also contributed seven blasts and a .333/.412/.619 line. Cron finished the season 10-for-54 (.185) with 16 strikeouts as he dealt with a bruised right thumb.
Yankees: Judge completed the season on a hot note, batting .300/.435/.720 with three doubles, six homers and nine RBIs in his final 14 games. So did LeMahieu, who hit .316/.366/.553 with two homers and nine RBIs in his last 10 games. Cold Bombers include Luke Voit (1-for-30) and Gregorius (9-for-51).
Anything else fans might want to know?
Fifteen of the Twins’ past 18 playoff games (dating to 2003) have come against the Yankees, and Minnesota is 2-13 in those games. New York ended the Twins’ season in ‘03, '04, '09, '10 and '17. The Twins’ active 13-game losing streak in postseason contests is tied with the 1986-95 Red Sox for the longest in MLB history. A loss on Friday would set a new all-time record.
Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.