Confident Twins ready to play David to Goliath

Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, left, visits with,

Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, left, visits with, from second left, infielders Danny Valencia, J.J. Hardy and Alexi Casilla during a baseball workout, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010, in Minneapolis. The Twins host the New York Yankees on Wednesday in Game 1 of the American League Divisions Series. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone

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MINNEAPOLIS - On the can't-miss-it whiteboard directly across from the Twins' clubhouse exit Tuesdaymorning was a photo copy of Monday's back page of one of New York's tabloids.

"E-Z Pass," was the headline, a reference to the Yankees' drawing the Twins in the ALDS.

Given the recent history between these two teams, both in the regular season and postseason, no further explanation was necessary.

"I don't think anybody gives us much credit, I don't think anybody has us winning this thing," rightfielder Jason Kubel said before the Twins' morning workout at Target Field. "So we'll just go out there and continue to prove people wrong."

Centerfielder Denard Span spoke about the photo copy, which was removed by early afternoon, with a smile.

"It doesn't bother me," Span said. "You know how the New York newspapers are, there's a lot of tabloids there. If that is what they think, that's fine. We're OK with that."

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This will be the fourth time in seven years the teams have met in the Division Series and things haven't gone well for the Twins. The Yankees won in four games in 2003 and 2004 and swept last year's best-of-five series.

"Yes, we've had our issues with them," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But we've had so many changes. It is about making a play against them, making a pitch against them."

The Twins have ruled out slugging first baseman Justin Morneau for this series, but he hasn't played since suffering a concussion July 7. Leftfielder Delmon Young has had success batting cleanup and 40-year-old designated hitter Jim Thome has said this year "reinvigorated" him. Young hit .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBIs and Thome hit .283 with 25 homers - in 276 at-bats - and 59 RBIs.

And the Twins, despite losing closer Joe Nathan before the regular season, have a deeper bullpen than in past years. They've also brought the home-field advantage they seemed to always enjoy - though not necessarily against the Yankees - at the Metrodome.

The Twins went an AL-best 53-28 at Target Field and have one of baseball's best overall records in the season's second half, going 48-26 after a 46-42 first half. "The thing I've learned over the years from postseason is if you pitch well, if you play good defense and you get a break, that wins ballgames," Thome said.

All things for the most part that haven't happened with the Twins against the Yankees.

But they believe this year can and should be different.

"I think we have a little more confidence than last year," Span said. "We keep saying the same thing as last year, we're just a year older. We've experienced this, we've been through this the last couple years. I think we know what it's all about now. We've been through this a couple times and we're hungry."

And a little extra motivated by the David vs. Goliath aspect of the series.


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