The Yankees are aware of the numbers.
Not because they’re particularly interested in them or find them relevant.
But they are aware, if only because they’ve constantly been reminded of them since it became official the Yankees would be playing the Twins in the American League Division Series.
“I don’t at all get caught up in the history of it, honestly because I just think there’s so many guys that had nothing to do with some of that,” manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday before his team worked out at the Stadium. “And we know we’re playing a great team.”
The Twins, whom the Yankees play in Game 1 Friday night, on the surface are formidable. They went 101-61 in capturing the AL Central crown, hitting a major-league record 307 homers along the way (the Yankees were second with 306).
But then there are these numbers: The Twins have lost 13 straight postseason games, including 10 straight to the Yankees, who took them out 3-1 in the 2003 ALDS, 3-1 in the 2004 ALDS, 3-0 in the 2009 ALDS and again 3-0 in the 2010 ALDS. The last meeting, the 2017 wild card game at the Stadium, was an 8-4 Yankees victory in which the Twins lost despite taking a 3-0 first-inning lead and bouncing Luis Severino after he retired only one batter.
Since 2002, including postseason games and this year’s season series, won by the Yankees, 4-2, they’re a ridiculous 99-37 vs. Minnesota.
“Yeah, I certainly dismiss that,” Boone said over the weekend, shortly after his team clinched the AL’s No. 2 seed and a matchup with the Twins. “We know what they’re capable of and we know we have to execute. If we don’t execute, you’re in trouble against that team. So it comes down to we have to go play our best and if we do that, we’ll take our chances.”
The most electric games between the teams this season took place July 22-24 at Target Field. The Yankees outscored the Twins 30-27 in winning two of the three games. They were outhomered, 12-8, in the series.
“We know they can hit a lot of home runs,” said lefthander J.A. Happ, whose role for the series has not yet been determined. “They’ve got a really good team and they’re pretty dynamic. But, again, we’re focused on ourselves and trying to stay within ourselves and execute.”
The Twins have talked confidently — as they should — about facing the Yankees and, like Boone, they’re dismissing the past.
“We understand the history,” team president Dave St. Peter said last week in an interview with Minneapolis/St. Paul radio station SKOR North. That’s my history — it isn’t [manager] Rocco Baldelli’s history, it certainly isn’t [designated hitter] Nelson Cruz’s history. So I think that’ll be overblown. Organizationally, I just say it’s time to slay the dragon, right?”
GM Brian Cashman, in an extensive end-of-season meeting with reporters before Game No. 162 Sunday in Arlington, Texas, praised the Twins.
“They’re legit,” he said. “And I think every team in the American League actually has a chance to run the table to represent the league in the World Series. So we’re going to take our shot just like they are. We’ve got to play our best baseball. Period. End of story. And obviously do everything in our power to find a way to get past them and see what happens.”
He gave a half-smile when asked if he considered his team “the dragon.”
“I consider ourselves the American League Eastern champions,” Cashman said. “That’s all we are right now, and we hope to be able to call ourselves more than that.”
It’s been nearly 15 years — Oct. 5, 2004, to be exact — since the Twins beat the Yankees in a postseason game. Johan Santana outdueled Mike Mussina in Game 1 of the ALDS, 2-0, but the Yankees have gone 10-0 against Minnesota in October since then, outscoring the Twins, 61-32. The streak:
Game 2: Yankees, 7 Twins 6
Game 3: Yankees 8, Twins 4
Game 4: Yankees 6, Twins 5
Game 1: Yankees 7, Twins 2
Game 2: Yankees 4, Twins 3
Game 3: Yankees 4, Twins 1
Game 1: Yankees 6, Twins 4
Game 2: Yankees 5, Twins 2
Game 3: Yankees 6, Twins 1
2017 Wild Card
Yankees 8, Twins 4