Well, it wasn't the 19-inning game I had hoped for, but it was close.
The Twins outlasted the Tigers, 6-5, in 12 innings on Tuesday night to win the American League Central tiebreaker and clinch a spot opposite the Yankees in the AL Division Series, which will start in the Bronx at 6:07 pm Wednesday, just 20 hours after Carlos Gomez slid home with the winning run in Minneapolis.
New York got its wish, drawing a team that it not only defeated seven out of seven times this season, but one that also used eight pitchers last night.
On the other hand, Minnesota will be on an emotional high when it storms into the first playoff game at the new Yankee Stadium tonight. But in baseball, momentum is only as good as the next day's pitcher, so let's check them out.
Game 1: Wednesday, Oct. 7—CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.37) vs. Brian Duensing (5-2, 3.64)
Sabathia went 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA over his final 11 starts of the regular season, but will now try to improve on his career 2-3, 7.92 mark in the playoffs.
The big lefty beat the Twins in his only start against them this year, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk, while striking out three over seven innings as the Yanks won, 10-2, at the Metrodome on July 7.
Sabathia, a former Indian, is quite familiar with Minnesota. He's 13-8 with a 3.05 ERA in 28 starts against them.
Alexi Casilla (9-for-13, 2 2B) and Mike Redmond (13-for-26, 6 RBI) are the only guys on a Twins roster—that has a .229 average against CC—that have had any sort of success vs. the southpaw.
AL MVP candidate Joe Mauer is 5-for-23 (.217) with nine strikeouts, Michael Cuddyer is 11-for-52 (.212) with 11 Ks, Nick Punto is 6-for-36 (.167) and Orlando Cabrera is 5-for-33 (.152).
Sabathia was 7-2 with a 3.17 ERA at home this season and the Yankees won 13 straight Wednesday games until falling to the Royals last week.
Duensing, meanwhile, is a rookie who made his first career start on July 29 and then transitioned to the rotation for good in late August. From Aug. 22 through Sept. 18, the left-hander went 4-0 with a 1.45 ERA, but over his final two starts, he pitched to a 6.97 mark.
The 26-year-old's only appearance against the Yankees was 2 2/3 innings of relief during which he surrendered four runs on two hits and four walks. Ironically, that came in that same July 7 game that Sabathia started.
Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano each had singles off Duensing, with Cano's hit driving in two runs. He walked Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher (twice), but struck out Johnny Damon.
The Twins starter was 2-2 with a 4.84 ERA on the road this year.
Prediction: Yankees 6, Twins 1
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Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report's New York Yankees Community Leader. His book "Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man" is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com
Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org