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Game 45: Yankees at Twins

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First Pitch: 7:10 PM CDT
TV: FSN North
Radio: Twins Radio Network
Know Thine Enemy: Pinstripe Alley

With just over a quarter of the season complete, the Minnesota Twins find themselves sitting atop the AL Central Division, one game ahead of the Detroit Tigers. At 26-18, the Twins also happen to have exactly the same record as tonight's opponent, the New York Yankees. As Jon pointed out yesterday, the Twins recent struggles against the Yankees are well documented, an atrocious 24-50 over the last ten seasons. But you have to like Ron Gardenhire's quote in today's ESPN game preview:

"As far as I'm concerned, we're 1-0 against the Yankees in our last one game played," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We'll construe the numbers any way we want now."

That's a great attitude, one that is possible after Jason Kubel hit an uber-clutch go ahead grand slam off Mariano Rivera to salvage the final game in New York just over a week ago. Hopefully it's a fresh start for the Twins as we move forward. Both teams come in 4-6 over their last ten games. The Twins took two out of three against a woeful (sorry, Brewers fans) Milwaukee ball club last weekend after a 2-5 east coast road trip. And the Yankees lost two of three at the New York Mets, after a two game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. The question is, who gets hot first?

Lineups, starting pitchers and other notes follow after the jump.

Starting Pitchers


Scott Baker

#30 / Pitcher / Minnesota Twins

6-4

220

R

R

Sep 19, 1981



W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Scott Baker 4-4 9 9 0 0 0 0 55.1 64 30 30 7 12 47 4.88 1.37

Scott Baker has had an up and down start to the 2010 season. After two solid home wins against Baltimore and Detroit, Baker has lost his last two starts in New York (6 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO) and Boston (6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO) to even his record at 4-4. At 4.88, his ERA isn't very good, but it appears to be driven by a very high .343 BABIP, which is in turn driven by a high 23.9 LD%. Baker's other peripherals suggest he's pitching better than his results, as he has posted a 3.70 xFIP, more than a run lower than his ERA. Over his career, Baker has made four regular season starts against the Yankees, pitching 21 innings, giving up 24 hits, 12 earned runs with 7 walks and 21 strikeouts. But these numbers are skewed by two solid starts in 2006, where Baker gave up only 5 hits and two runs in 12 innings. So who knows what we'll see. Hopefully fewer well hit balls than we saw last time out against the Yankees.


A.J. Burnett

#34 / Pitcher / New York Yankees

6-5

230

R

R

Jan 03, 1977



W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - A.J. Burnett 4-2 9 9 0 0 0 0 58.1 61 29 25 4 22 40 3.86 1.42

With A.J. Burnett, you know you're going to get some nasty stuff, lots of strikeouts and lots of walks. A couple weeks ago, the Twins hit Burnett pretty well (7 hits in 6+ innings), but we failed to take advantage of early opportunities, as two hits, three walks and an error in the first two innings resulted in only two runs. Burnett followed up by getting pounded 9 hits and 6 runs in 6+ innings against Tampa Bay last week. Control has been the problem of late for Burnett. After his first six starts, A.J. had a 1.99 ERA,with 28 strikeouts versus 11 walks in 40+ innings. Over his last three starts, his ERA has jumped to 3.86 and he has given 11 walks versus 12 strikeouts in 17+ innings. Burnett's peripherals suggest he could fall a bit more, as his BB/9 (3.39 vs 3.77) and HR/FB (6.9% vs 10.1%) are below career averages. But his strikeout rate (6.17 SO/9) is well below his career average (8.29), does this mean Burnett's stuff isn't as good as in years past, or is he making an effort to get hitters to put the ball in play and become a more efficient hitter? Time will tell...

Notes

  • It's a tale of two first basemen tonight. Justin Morneau comes in with a Pujols-like .383/.487/.701 line, leading the league in AVG, OBP and SLG (the Joe Mauer triple crown...). Mark Teixeira comes in ice cold, 3 for his last 25, batting .209/.327/.378. Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter, but this year appears to be particularly slow for him. Of course, Teixeira has nearly double the All Star votes as Morneau...
  • LEN III notes that Target Field has given up the third lowest number of home runs in the American League, behind Oakland and Seattle. While the summer months may mean more home runs, I suspect home runs would increase at most ballparks around the league. Early indications are that Target Field is a pitcher's ballpark. Not as extreme as Oakland or Seattle, but a pitcher's ballpark is fine by me with the way our team is set up.
  • J.J. Hardy will test out his wrist prior to tonight's game. If all goes well, he'll be activated from the DL and in the lineup.
  • Seth Stohs gives us an update on the four college pitchers the Twins drafted in 2009.