Twins have earned the right to get waxed by Yankees
Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
People who know me know that I often speak in hyperbole.
For instance, upon hearing that the New York Jets acquired wide receiver Braylon Edwards this morning I immediately started telling anyone would listen that my beloved Gang Green was on their way to the Super Bowl.
But, when I say that last night's one-game playoff between the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers was the best baseball game I have ever seen, I am not exaggerating. It was that good.
The game had everything you would want. Drama, comebacks, home runs, small ball, a little controversy, great defense, and when you add in the fact that it was for the final spot in the postseason, it just makes it all the more special.
I have never been a fan of adding another wild card to each league. But, if they do it right, and have the two wild cards play on the Monday after the season in this win-or-go home setting, I would be all for it. I love the drama.
But now, reality sets in for Minnesota.
Not to be a wet blanket, or in this case, a wet hankie, but the Twins have no shot at winning this upcoming series against the New York Yankees. Let's be honest, as good as the Twins were down the stretch, they still needed a collapse of epic proportions by the Tigers to even get into the position they were in.
I am not shocked often anymore by sports, but I will absolutely be floored if the Twins end the Yankees' season. Honestly, I would be shocked if even they get a game.
Forget the overall matchups for a second, of which the Twins have no advantage, they are taxed. They had to use seven relievers in Tuesday's game and are throwing rookie Brian Duensing in Game 1.
Brian Duensing? Are you kidding me? Maybe this statement is going to come back to bite me, but sending a rookie pitcher into Yankee Stadium in October against that lineup is crazy.
As bad as he has been, I think Francisco Liriano would have been a better option.
The Yankees are going to jump on Duensing early and with a bullpen that is already short-handed, this first game could get out of hand in a hurry. What do they do if that happens? Bring in Nick Blackburn, who is scheduled to go in Game 2? If that plays out, would the Twins dare pitch Carl Pavano in the Bronx on Friday? That has to happen, doesn't it?
People are going to say I am delusional, but Alex Rodriguez is poised for a monster postseason. He quietly had another tremendous season, reaching 30 home runs and 100 RBI for the 12th straight year, despite missing a little over a month while recovering from hip surgery.
All you have to do is watch him and you can tell, he just seems different. The way he carries himself, the way he interacts with his teammates, the media, it is all just different.
Maybe Kate Hudson is the answer. Tell me the last time the Black Crowes had a hit. Maybe she's the difference-maker.
We all know of Rodriguez's perceived struggles in the postseason, but having Mark Teixeira hit in front of him takes so much pressure off of him. As crazy as it may sound, Rodriguez almost hides in that star-studded lineup.
By the way, A-Rod hit .480 the last time the Yankees played the Twins in the postseason.
The one thing that may be a problem here for the Yanks is Joe Girardi, who is the only manager in these playoffs that has never managed a postseason game. I think he gets a bad rap at times, but for the life of me I can't understand why he is catching Jose Molina in Game 2 instead of Jorge Posada.
I know the numbers indicate that A.J. Burnett is just better throwing to Molina than Posada, but is that enough to make up for the difference at the plate between the backstops? Molina is hitting .217, while Posada is a borderline Hall of Famer with countless big hits in the playoffs as well as a few championship rings.
As Posada said when informing the media of Girardi's decision on Tuesday, "I just hope we win that game. That's all I've got to say."
YANKEES IN THREE
Let's take a look at how I see the rest of the first round panning out:
BOSTON-ANAHEIM: Logic tells you that at some point the Angels have to win one of these series against Boston. Josh Beckett's back is hurting, but it was hurting last year and the Red Sox still won. Plus the Boston lineup is even better than it was last year thanks to the in-season addition of catcher Victor Martinez. Not to mention the Angels head into the postseason with their worst bullpen situation in years. Boston feasts on units like that. I think the Angels' starting pitching will keep it close, but the Red Sox will pull it out...again.
RED SOX IN FOUR
COLORADO-PHILADELPHIA: Colorado has been so hot since Jim Tracy took the reins that you can't fault anyone for taking them in this series, especially the way Philadelphia played down the stretch. Colorado really doesn't do one thing great, but they do everything pretty well. I don't like the way Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels finished the season, either. But, I have to think they will turn things around here in the playoffs, especially Hamels. And in case you didn't know, the Rockies struggled big-time against lefties, going just 27-26 overall against left-handed starters, including just an 8-16 ledger against them on the road. And this is just a hunch, but I have a feeling that Lidge will be Lidge once the playoffs begin. Plus, this isn't the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies. These are the world champions. Just reaching the playoffs is not the goal anymore. Anything short of a World Series should be considered a failure, and I am sure that is how this team looks at it. The Rockies are young and had a fantastic season and I think they will give the Phils all they can handle here. I think it will go five games, and if it does Colorado has no shot at winning it on the road, probably against Lee.
PHILLIES IN FIVE
ST. LOUIS-LOS ANGELES: I think I may have heard someone mention once, or a million times, that good pitching is what wins in October. Well the Cardinals certainly have better pitching, and to be honest they have the better lineup. I chalk up St. Louis' struggles down the stretch to the fact that they had nothing to play for. Los Angeles, meanwhile, found itself in a dog-fight at the end just to win a division title. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are going to be tough for any team to face, so you would have to think they can get at least a split at Chavez Ravine. I think they will probably win both. Chad Billingsley has been bad for a while. I don't see him just turning it on now because we are in the postseason. And oh, by the way, Albert Pujols is a machine.
CARDINALS IN FOUR