This is all you need to get ready for tonight's wild-card game between the Twins and Yankees. It's a Game 7 disguised as a Game 1, and it all starts at 7 p.m.
Pitching matchup: Ervin Santana vs. Luis Severino
1. Dozier pushing teammates to dig deep
"The more you treat it as just another game, but also reach back a little bit and take your game to the next level, that's what's fun about it," Brian Dozier said Monday. "All hands on deck (tomorrow), we'll see what happens."
2. Luis Severino didn't dominate the Twins
Severino was arguably the American League's third best starting pitcher this season behind Corey Kluber of the Indians and Chris Sale of the Red Sox. As good as the right-hander is, he wasn't very productive against the Twins when he faced them Sept. 20.
Severino threw 71 pitches and gave up three runs in just three innings before being pulled.
“I feel very confident,” Severino said Monday, via the New York Post. “I’m not nervous.”
3. Twins want to get to Severino early
��I think it’s good for us to kind of get to him early like last time,” Dozier said. “I think a lot of us got to see what he was trying to do then.”
4. If Minnesota doesn't get to Severino, trouble awaits
Basically, the Yankees are capable of turning any ballgame into a five-inning fight. They're fully loaded in the bullpen, which allows them to throw five dominating relievers at their opponents. Here's a clip from a story we did a couple of weeks ago about how scary the Yankees bullpen is.
5. Yankees bullpen has a major flaw
They walk a lot of guys. Per the NY Post, their 3.76 walks per nine innings are the most of any AL playoff team. Put a runner on base in a close game and you never know what could happen.
6. Ervin Santana has never won at Yankee Stadium
In 20 career starts against the Yankees he's 6-10 with a 5.66 ERA, including a lifetime 0-5 record at Yankee Stadium. But he's not lacking any confidence based on his exchange with reporters on Monday.
“I know how many games … I pitch here. Do you know?” Santana asked reporters. “And how many wins?”
One media member responded with "none."
“So [Tuesday] is going to be one,” Santana answered back.
7. Watch out for Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez
As if Aaron Judge's 52 homers aren't enough, the Yankees will likely put power-hitting catcher Gary Sanchez right behind Judge in the batting order. Judge and Sanchez had the two longest home runs in baseball this season, with Judge's longest shot going 495 feet and Sanchez blasting one 493 feet.
And Judge is red-hot, having hit 15 homers in September, including this ridiculous shot from Saturday.
8. Twins are better defensively
Minnesota committed 17 fewer errors than the Yankees this season, a rather large gap between two playoff teams. Although Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco led the team with 18 errors, Minnesota's defense Tuesday night won't have another player on the diamond with more than 6 errors all season.
The Yankees have some error-prone infielders:
- 3B, Chase Headley - 14 errors
- C, Gary Sanchez - 13 errors
- 2B, Starlin Castro - 11 errors
Plus, Byron Buxton is the best defensive outfielder in the majors, giving the Twins a major boost.
9. Jose Berrios could relieve Santana
If push comes to shove the Twins could call on Jose Berrios from the bullpen. They did it in a test move on Friday and it worked wonderfully against the Tigers. And the bullpen stage wasn't too big for him while pitching in the World Baseball Classic, when he struck out Team USA's Giancarlo Stanton, Jonathan Lucroy, Ian Kinsler and Christian Yelich, according to the Twins.
10. Miguel Sano not available off the bench
In a bit of a surprise, the Twins didn't put Sano on the 25-man roster for tonight's game, so he's not available. More on this right here.
10+1: Forget about the history with the Yankees
Joe Mauer is the only player on the roster really aware of New York's dominance over the Twins. It's true that the Yankees are 78-31 against Minnesota since 2002, and they've knocked them out of the playoffs four times (2003, '04, '09, '10), but it's a non-factor in tonight's game.
"Really, this team, it doesn't mean a whole lot," Mauer said Monday. "I'm probably the only one that it means a little bit more, maybe. It's a different team, and they've got a different team over there."