Bronx, NY: The Yankees are expected to be where they are in the postseason as they get ready for another meeting with the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night in Game 1 of the Al Division Series.
“I played here before in 2017,” said the Twins’ Miguel Sano Thursday afternoon. “Out the whole season that year. I don’t have a chance to play in the Wild Card but 2019 we’re here. That’s the moment. Part of the “Bomba Squad.”
He said, “Let’s do it.” And the Yankees vs. the Twins are doing it again as the top two home run teams in baseball. So with a season that saw a record number of home runs hit in baseball it is appropriate that these two teams begin their journey in October.
Five times the Yankees have eliminated the Twins since the year of 2000. The Yankees have won 13 of the 15 games they played in October . They were not classics for the postseason, but this is a new era of the home run ball.
“Bomba Squad” named for the Twins who set a single season home run record with 307.
And the Bronx Bombers, right behind, a record 306. So this could be a home run derby in October if the respective starters and bullpens don’t locate and stop the barrage.
But, hey, Major League Baseball is not against the home run ball and will be all smiles when the home runs are hit out of Yankee Stadium and Target Field. A five game series could be a ratings bonanza for a first round series.
Five Twins hit 30 or more home runs this season. The Yankees had two, but more than ten on the team had double figures in home runs. Yes, there will be hitting also and hopefully some well pitched games.
Sano hit 34, Max Kepler 36, Nelson Cruz 41, Eddie Rosario 32, and Mitch Garver 31. So they are the “Bomba Squad” in a city that is not dominated by a Latino community.
“Yeah it’s not a big Latin community but we are being ourselves,” said Sano, in his third year as a Twin from San Pedro de Marcios, Dominican Republic.
“We hit a lot of homers and I think we stayed together as players and we have people from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Curacao. I think that helps us be ourselves and it helps our identity.”
That identity also is a good team that led the AL Central most of the season, though the Indians at one point looked to overtake them. Either way, Sano and the Twins were destined to be here and meet the Yankees again.
In sports there is that word called redemption. So these Twins, many who were not a part of those losing postgame series to the Yankees, are looking forward to this October matchup. They are confident and this home run hitting team is expected to have that enthusiasm about them.
“To me, I think it’s a normal game, like in the regular season,” Sano said. “I know it’s a playoff but the more relaxed you go outside and play the game the more fun you can have. Try to play the game. Hit the ball, run the base, and everything. Doesn’t matter if it’s the postseason.:
He said, it’s going out there to play and win like it is a regular season game and for the most part that is true. However, more is at stake in October and the challenge again is the Yankees.
Let’s not jump ahead and rightfully so. Because this could be a five game series, the Yankees have home field, so a decisive game for rights to play in the ALCS could be decided by a home run ball.
The bullpens could come into play and the Yankees have that advantage with the best relief core in the game as proved this season.
“Our group has been very stable,” said Twins’ first year manager Rocco Baldelli. “I think this is going to be a fun series in that way because the two teams that are playing probably have that quality, unlike any two teams that have played the game.”
Yes, it will be fun. Baseball in October is pressure but has that atmosphere of being a kid again on the baseball field. The Twins and Yankees go at it again this Friday night in the Bronx.
“A lot of guys that can help us win this series and go out there and do good things,” Baldelli said.
Count on that also from the Yankees.
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