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MLB-Play offs-ALDS- Twins at Yankees preview

New York vs. Minnesota (Yankee Stadium)
May 3 – Yankees 6, Twins 3 (Favorite -150, Over 7 ½)
May 4 – Twins 7, Yankees 3 (Underdog +104, Over 9)
May 5 – Yankees 4, Twins 1 (Favorite -134, Under 8 ½)

Minnesota vs. New York (Target Field)
July 22 – Twins 8 Yankees 6 (Underdog +106, Over 11)
July 23 – Yankees 14 Twins 12 (Favorite -116, Over 10)
July 24 – Yankees 10 Twins 7 (Favorite -117, Over 11)

The only divisional series involving a pair of 100-win teams from the regular season takes place between the Yankees and Twins. New York (103-59) claimed its first American League East title since 2012 and its first 100-victory season since 2009, the last time the Bronx Bombers won a world championship.

The Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers all struggled to start the season and still finished with over 100 wins as New York actually began 8-10 before winning nine of 10 to sit at 17-11. New York began to separate itself from the rest of the pack in the division starting June 17 as the Yankees pulled off a 16-2 run and finished the first half at 57-31.

James Paxton (15-6, 3.82 ERA) will get the ball in the series opener for the Yankees as the southpaw has caught fire at the right time. New York has won each of Paxton’s last 11 starts dating back to the beginning of August, while the Yankees have scored at least five runs in each of his past 10 appearances. Paxton faced the Twins at home in early May, as he lasted only three innings in a 6-3 win, while leaving early due to knee soreness.

Masahiro Tanaka (11-9, 4.45 ERA) put together the most uneven season of his career, which included New York winning 11 of 12 starts from June through August. In that lone loss during that stretch, Tanaka was tagged for 12 runs in less than four innings of a 19-3 drubbing at Boston. The Yankees lost five of Tanaka’s first seven starts of the season, while New York alternated wins and losses in his final seven starts. Tanaka didn’t face the Twins this season, as the Yankees are looking to improve on a 3-1 record in his past four playoff appearances.

The Twins (101-61) were in control of the AL Central from May through the end of the season for their first division championship since 2010. Minnesota last won over 100 games way back in 1965, as that Twins’ squad lost in the World Series to Los Angeles. This year’s team notched 307 home runs, which set a Major League record for most long balls hit in a season. The next highest total belonged to the Yankees, who drilled 306 homers.

Five Twins’ sluggers went deep at least 30 times this season, led by Nelson Cruz’s 41 dingers. Right fielder Max Kepler (36), third baseman Miguel Sano (34), left fielder Eddie Rosario (32), and catcher Mitch Garver (31) round out the list, but Rosario and Cruz were the only two Twins to drive in more than 100 runs.

In 2018, the Twins won their 40th game on July 9 to improve to 40-48. In 2019, Minnesota grabbed its 40th victory on June 2 to move to 40-18. The Indians trimmed the Twins’ deficit to three games in late August, but Minnesota pulled away over the final month. The Twins went 13-4 to close out the season, while the Indians flamed out by losing their last five games to end a three-year playoff run.

Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.68 ERA) makes his first career playoff start for Minnesota as the Twins posted a 12-5 record in his 17 outings on the road. The Twins lost three of Berrios’ five starts in the role of an away underdog, as the right-hander didn’t square off against the Yankees this season. In 2018, New York tagged Berrios for five runs in four innings of an 8-3 victory in the Bronx, as he looks to give the Twins their first playoff win since 2004.

Dating back to 2003, the Twins have appeared in the playoffs six times. During this stretch, the Yankees have eliminated Minnesota on five occasions, including in back-to-back ALDS sweeps in 2009 and 2010. New York knocked out Minnesota in the 2017 Wild Card in the Bronx, 8-4, as the Twins seek their first playoff series victory since outlasting the Athletics in five games of the 2002 ALDS.

The season series was won by the Yankees, 4-2, as New York captured each of the two series. In probably the game of the year in Major League Baseball on July 23 at Target Field, the Twins built an 8-2 lead before the Yankees rallied back for a 10-9 advantage in the 8th inning. Minnesota scored two in the bottom of the 8th before New York grabbed back the lead in the top of the 9th with two runs. The Twins scratched a run across in the bottom of the 9th to force extra innings tied at 12-12, but the Yankees posted two runs in the top of the 10th for the dramatic 14-12 triumph.

New York has lost its past three playoff series openers (not including the Wild Card round) since 2017, but all three defeats came away from the Bronx. The Yankees are listed at -240 to win this series at the Westgate Superbook (Bet $240 to win $100), while the Twins sit at +190 to move forward to the ALCS.

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