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ALDS forecast: Twins vs. Yankees
10/03/2004 7:00 PM ET
Why the Twins will win

1. Their defense. They are loaded with players who can steal games with amazing defensive plays.

2. Johan Santana: If he pitches the way he has been pitching and wins twice, the Twins are in good shape. They'll just need to win one of the other three games.

3. The Metrodome advantage: They'll only have two games in the Metrodome, but it's a minefield for visiting teams with the white ceiling, the baggy, etc. This franchise won two World Series without winning a road game.

Achilles heel: This is not a scary lineup. Division-winners or not, they have been known to waste some very effective starting performances with inadequate run support. They could go cold long enough to lose a short series.

Darkhorse player: Lew Ford, not a household name outside Minnesota, has the tools to be an impact player in this series, with his bat and his baserunning ability.

Individual matchup: Johan Santana vs. Gary Sheffield: The potential Cy Young winner against the potential MVP. This is the kind of matchup that makes October baseball a joy to behold, and you can bet that this one will occur in a critical situation or two.

Why the Yankees will win:

1. Their superior offense will find a way. Even against the best, the Yankees will find a way to score enough runs. See Pedro Martinez.

2. One of their starting pitchers, whose status is in doubt, will reach back and rise to occasion. Kevin Brown, Orlando Hernandez, Javier Vazquez, somebody, anybody.

3. They're the Yankees. This is their time of year. They will win because they fully believe that this is what must occur.

Achilles heel: Has any team with championship aspirations entered the postseason with more questions about its starting rotation?

Darkhorse player: Paul Quantrill. His career, up to this season, speaks of consummate professionalism and reliability. He wills himself into his previous form and eats up invaluable innings for the Yankees, scoreless innings at that.

Individual matchup: Torii Hunter vs. a deep drive hit by any Yankee. It's way back, it's going, going, it's ... caught by Hunter, leaping over the wall? He has robbed the great, the near great and the average. He could take one away from A-Rod or Miguel Cairo. Hunter is a highlight reel waiting to happen and he could take away the runs that could spell the difference in this series.

Prediction: The Twins are a fundamentally sound and personally admirable group. They do not beat themselves, and they have a starting pitcher working as impressively as anybody on the planet. The Yankees have a great offense, but questions abound in their starting rotation. In the end, your instincts and your memory prevail.
The pick: The Yankees in five.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.