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The Road to World Series, No. 27: Yankees vs. Twins ALDS Preview

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IOctober 7, 2009

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees avoids a pick off against the Boston Red Sox on September 26, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

This is what we have waited for all year long.

The 162 games. The day games, the night games, the winning streaks, the losing streaks, the walk-off wins, the pitching duels, the pies in the face, the grind, the blood, sweat, and tears. This is what eight teams have worked for since April.

After a dramatic finish in the 163rd game of the MLB season between the Twins and Tigers that saw Minnesota rally from being down 3-0 and 5-4 to win the A.L. Central 6-5 in 12 innings, it will be the Twins who get to travel to the Bronx to face the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.

These two teams have met before in 2009, seven times. Their first series was back in May at Yankee Stadium.

May 15: Yankees won 5-4

May 16: Yankees won 6-4

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May 17: Yankees won 3-2

May 18: Yankees won 7-6

The Yankees swept the four game series on three consecutive walk-off wins that some say turned the Yankees season around into the right direction. The two teams met again in early July in the Metrodome.

Jul. 7: Yankees won 10-2

Jul. 8: Yankees won 4-3

Jul. 9: Yankees won 6-4

The Yankees were in a good rhythm and swept the three game series in Minnesota and won every one of the seven games played against the Twins.

This isn't the first time the Yankees and the Twins have met in the American League Division Series.

In 2003, the Yankees defeated the Twins three games to one.

In 2004, the Yankees again defeated the Twins three games to one.

In both of those years, the Yankees advanced to the American League Championship Series and faced the Boston Red Sox.

2009 could be following a trend of 2003 and 2004 as well, but lets not get ahead just yet.

The lineups for each team could look like the following:

Yankees:

SS- Derek Jeter

LF- Johnny Damon

1B- Mark Teixeira

3B- Alex Rodriguez

DH- Hideki Matsui

C- Jorge Posada

RF- Nick Swisher

2B- Robinson Cano

CF- Melky Cabrera

Twins:

CF- Denard Span

SS- Orlando Cabrera

C- Joe Mauer

RF- Jason Kubel

1B- Michael Cuddyer

LF- Delmon Young

DH- Jose Morales

3B- Matt Tolbert

2B- Nick Punto

The Yankees have a slightly stronger lineup than the Twins do, but as we all saw on Tuesday night, the Twins are feisty and won't go away. The Twins are without Justin Morneau due to a back injury. The Yankees will have Jose Molina catching A.J. Burnett's games and expect Brett Gardner to be in because of his speed element.

The starting pitching staffs for each team:

Yankees:

LHP- CC Sabathia

RHP- A.J. Burnett

LHP- Andy Pettitte

RHP- Joba Chamberlain

RHP- Chad Gaudin

Twins:

RHP- Scott Baker

LHP- Mark Duensing

RHP- Nick Blackburn

RHP- Carl Pavano

LHP- Francisco Liriano

For this series, Chamberlain and Gaudin are expected to come out of the bullpen, so the Yankees will go with a three-man rotation in the ALDS, while Duensing and Blackburn are expected to pitch the first two games in the Bronx. It will be interesting to see if and when the most hated former Yankee in Pavano pitches against his former team.

Both teams have good bullpens with excellent closers in Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan. However, Phil Hughes may be a better setup man than Jesse Crain, which could shorten the game up even more for the Yankees if they have a lead after the sixth or seventh innings.

Prediction:

The Twins had to fight and battle to the final day to get to a one game playoff, and then had to battle 12 innings to fight off the Tigers, so the Twins are probably exhausted beyond belief, while the Yankees are rested.

The Yankees are expected to win this series being they were picked as the favorites in the preseason to win a championship. 2009 has been a strong one for the Yankees and as long as they keep their momentum and focus from the season, I expect greater things from this Yankees team of 2009.

In the ALDS, I am picking the Yankees to win it three games to one.

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