Do early-season phenoms fade once the rest of the league learns to stop giving them pitches to hit?
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The Twins and Yankees meet yet again in the first round of the postseason but Minnesota has home field advantage this time.
As they did last year as well as 2003 and 2004, the Twins run squarely into the Yankee juggernaut in the first round. Unlike those other three meetings, they have home field advantage this time around, as they won the AL Central going away thanks to a league-best 48-26 second-half record. The defending world champion Yankees, who held the majors' best record for most of the season, were forced to settle for the wild card due to a sluggish 13-17 showing against a very tough schedule in September and October. Despite the relative temperatures of the two clubs, it's important to remember that late-season records aren't predictive of October success—or failure.
Last night's victors face a tall order in their Bronx confrontation.
The Yankees have been pretty sure they'd be playing in the postseason since not long after the All-Star break. The Twins didn't have much chance of doing so until about two weeks ago, and only found out for sure about 18 hours before the first pitch of the Division Series. That's just one reason of many why this AL Division Series matchup is one of the most lopsided in the 15-year history of the three-tiered playoffs.
Wasted greatness in the land of lakes should inspire the Twins to do more than settle.
As the Minnesota Twins continue to tread water in third place, 5½ games behind the Detroit Tigers after Sunday's action, dreams of a playoff berth (or at least a repeat of last year's Game 163 excitement) seem more remote with each passing day. Perhaps Twin Cities baseball fans can take comfort in one thing, though: the middle of the Twins order has become the stuff of nightmares for AL pitchers.
Joe drafts with fantasy experts galore at this year's AL Tout Wars.
I suppose it's worth noting now that I was a pretty good checkers player, and I don't know how to play chess. This is how you end up with no closers, a $20 Jason Kubel, just two pitchers in Opening Day rotations and the wrong backup catcher.
Constructing a playoff roster is a critical part of advancing through the postseason. Christina breaks down the eight teams.
Bench Assets: If Jim Leyland pinch-runs for Pudge late in a game, Vance Wilson's a thoroughly useful backup catcher. Omar Infante is the Tigers' best reserve, hitting .277/.325/.415, and he's good enough to spot at four different positions. After that, you get into the "why are they here?" players, where only Leyland sees value, and only the opposition wants to see them on the field.
Derek recaps a Santana-Bonderman duel with serious implications for the AL Central race.
The divisional race in the AL Central was thought to be over as recently as a month ago. On August 7, Detroit had a ten-game lead in the division. Since then, the Tigers have a 10-21 record. They've lost two out of their first three in a crucial four-game set against Minnesota. Meanwhile, in Chicago, the White Sox have taken two in a row from the extremely disappointing Cleveland Indians. Just like that, the AL Central race is now down to a three game lead, three and a half over the White Sox, the tightest race in the AL.
Let's hear it for rainouts, as Derek checks out the Schilling v. Santana showdown in Minneapolis.
Welcome to yet another edition of Game of the Week. As you might have noticed, the game we set out to cover last week was rained out. That game, the nightcap of a planned Saturday day/night doubleheader between the Red Sox and Rangers at Fenway Park, was to have featured Red Sox past and future--former Sock John Wasdin going for the Texans, young Texan ace-of-the-future Josh Beckett pitching for the Beantowners.