New York Yankees
In two games, the Minnesota Twins were at home. In two games, they took an early lead. In two games, they had one miserable inning. In two games, they have two losses to the New York Yankees. One more strike, and they'll be out of the 2010 MLB playoffs, and the Bronx Bombers will look to deliver the knockout blow on Saturday night in the Bronx.
The Yankees haven't gotten the greatest efforts in the world from their starting pitchers so far in the postseason, but it really just hasn't mattered. The bullpen has been totally spotless, as both Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera have been lights out in a combined 4.1 innings of work. OF Curtis Granderson is batting .500 for the two games with four hits, while the man of the hour has been DH Lance Berkman. Berkman went yard off of Carl Pavano on Thursday night in the fifth inning to give the Yanks the lead for the first time, and his RBI double in the top of the seventh blew the game open.
Now, Minnesota has a lot of head scratching to do. It was one of the best home teams in baseball all season long and now faces elimination from the second season. Only OF Delmon Young is batting even .300 in this series to date, and if the Twins can't get some more offense produced, especially in the later innings, they'll be on the flight back to Minneapolis before the weekend is over.
The Twins have their season resting on the left arm of LHP Brian Duensing. Duensing remembers pitching in the Bronx last year in Game 1 of the playoffs, a game in which he was the biggest underdog that the postseason has seen in a number of years on the MLB playoff odds. This year, he only made 13 starts, but most of those came down the stretch. He did go 10-3 for his efforts, including a complete game shutout back on August 14th. However, in his career against the Yanks, Duensing is 0-1 with a 8.10 ERA.
RHP Phil Hughes didn't pitch all that well down the stretch for the Yanks, but it isn't usual that an 18 game winner is throwing the third game of a series. He was stellar last postseason in relief in the World Series run, and now, Hughes will look to help manager Joe Girardi out as a starter in this postseason for the potential to go back to back. At home this year, Hughes went 11-4 with a 4.66 ERA. He has only faced the Twins three times, just once as a starter, and in his 7.1 innings of work, he has only allowed three runs.
This series is over. The Twins know that they aren't taking two games in the Bronx, and they are probably going to fold up shop before ever getting off the airplane in the Big Apple. There's a reason that Duensing spent so much time in the bullpen this year, and there's an even bigger reason that he was a 3-1 underdog last year in this same spot. He won't survive, and the Yanks will march through to the ALCS.
Selection: New York Yankees -170