05/23/10 3:47 PM ET
Twins try to build off last win over Yanks
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
The Twins will have the home-field advantage this time, but they'll also have the weight of their extended history. Minnesota has won just seven of its past 27 games against New York, a record that bloats to 15-43 against the Yankees since 2002. New York has even knocked the Twins out of the playoffs three times in the past seven years, and nobody in the clubhouse is taking that lightly.
"[This win] is going to help out just to let us see that they are a beatable team," said starter Nick Blackburn in the wake of Kubel's eighth-inning grand slam. "Hopefully today gets us rolling and helps us realize that we can beat these guys."
"It's definitely a big win," said Kubel, who snapped Rivera's record streak of 51 straight saves at home. "I think it's going to help when we face them next week so we don't have that feeling like, 'Oh, here it goes again.' We got them this time and hopefully it carries over."
The Yankees will be making their first trip to Target Field, a trip that carries extra significance to them because they helped close out the Metrodome in last season's American League Division Series. New York managed a sweep in its first trips to each of Target Field's predecessors, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi will remember the Metrodome pretty fondly.
"It was a dome that was very comfortable to play in -- it was always a good brand of baseball and they were always good games," Girardi said. "But I do prefer outdoor baseball. Maybe we're catching them at the right time. It's supposed to be 80 degrees in Minnesota this week. They claim its only one degree colder than Chicago on average, and it seems like the weather's been really good out there. But I had a chance to see Target Field last year when we went in there during the regular season, and it really looked beautiful. I went up to the parking deck and looked out over the field, and it looked great. I'm excited to go there and I'm excited for them."
Scott Baker will get the ball for Minnesota in the opener, and he'll be matched up against New York's A.J. Burnett. Baker has completed six innings in four straight starts and six times overall this season, but he's also given up five earned runs on three different occasions. Burnett reeled off four straight wins to start the season, but he's allowed 16 earned runs over the course of his past three outings.
Yankees: Burnett looks to get back to April form
Burnett's season seemed to be rolling along through six starts, at which point he had a 4-0 record and a 1.99 ERA. Then he got tagged for nine earned runs in a loss to the Red Sox and mixed in a victory over the Twins before giving up six earned runs to Tampa Bay. Burnett's ERA has jumped by nearly two full runs over his last three starts, and he's allowed the first run of the game in seven of his nine outings.
The right-hander has always given the Twins a hard time, holding them to three earned runs or less in six of his seven career outings. Burnett held the Twins to three hits in a playoff game last October, and handcuffed them into the seventh inning of last week's start.
Twins: Target Field a sweet home for Morneau
The Twins have the league's hottest hitter, and he's been doing most of his damage at home. First baseman Justin Morneau singled and doubled on Sunday to raise his league-leading batting average to .383, a number that rises to .411 at Target Field. Morneau also ranks among the league leaders in walks and total bases, and he has 12 hits and seven RBIs in his last 19 at-bats at home.
And if the Twins get a little luck, they may also get shortstop J.J. Hardy back from the disabled list on Tuesday. Hardy has been sidelined two weeks due to a left wrist bruise, but he'll take batting practice on the off-day and the team will make a decision before Tuesday's game. Rookie Trevor Plouffe has started the last three games at shortstop, going 3-for-12 with three RBIs.
Yankees starter Javier Vazquez's right index finger is still wrapped in a protective bandage, but the right-hander will likely be ready to go on Thursday against the Twins. The Yankees have listed Vazquez as their probable starter for the series finale at Target Field, which would keep Vazquez on turn after he was injured trying to drop a bunt on Friday against the Mets. ... The Yankees lost out on their chance to have the Empire State Building lit up in Yankees blue on Monday by dropping Sunday's Subway Series rubber match to the Mets, 6-4. ... Minnesota outfielder Denard Span left Sunday's game with a right shoulder bruise and is listed as day-to-day. Reserve infielder Alexi Casilla pinch-hit for Span and wound up playing the outfield for the first time in his career. ... The Twins are 10-10 in day games, compared to 16-8 at night. ... Orlando Hudson picked up his second straight three-hit game -- and sixth of the season -- on Sunday. ... Morneau has reached base safely at least four times in a game five times this season.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.