The narrative about the Twins and Yankees is partially over for now. At least the part about the regular season.
To say the Twins winning a season series over the Yankees was a long time coming might be an understatement but to put it in context, consider what some of the key figures in helping Minnesota achieve their first season series win over the Yankees since 2001 were doing nearly 22 years ago.
The Twins have played 141 regular season games against the Yankees in between clinching a season series from them back on May 10, 2001 when AJ Pierzynski scored on a passed ball by Joe Oliver in the 10th inning of a 5-4 win.
Of those games since then, the Twins have lost 100 of them often in difficult fashion such as allowing a walk-off grand slam to Jason Giambi in the 14th on May 17, 2002 on the fourth anniversary of David Wells throwing a perfect game against them after a well-documented night of late night partying with cast members of Saturday Night Live. Then there are the three straight walkoffs in the first year of the current Yankee Stadium when the Yankees were reversing a sluggish start on their way to their only World Series title since 2000.
The Twins were able to clinch the season series because of the nice mix of pitching and power.
Joe Ryan, who was a four-year-old pitched the clincher with seven innings and is starting to compete with former Yankee Sonny Gray for the role of team ace. Byron Buxton, who was seven when the Twins last won a season series, delivered the tiebreaking homer after entering Tuesday hitless in 16 at-bats against the Yankees.
Buxton also provided the most memorable reaction when he told reporters how his mind was blown after hearing about how long it had been and struggling to put it into words.
“Twenty-two years? I was 6,” Buxton said when told 2001 was the last time the Twins won the season series against New York. “This one felt extra good after hearing that then.”
It also was so long Joe Mauer was not even in drafted yet by the Twins who had the first overall pick. It also was so long ago David Ortiz played in Minnesota’s two wins at the Metrodome and was still two years shy of joining the likes of Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as some of the members of the Yankee-killer club.
It was so long ago that Aaron Boone was still 26 months shy of becoming a Yankee for four months, something he did in 2003 when he was acquired from the Reds and hit the famous pennant clinching homer off Tim Wakefield at 12:16 am on Oct. 17, 2003 after the Red Sox were five outs away from getting to the World Series.
The last season series loss was so long that Aaron Judge was nearly a year away from being born. Now he is slumping of late as the Yankees also are enduring a rough time at the plate that resembles last year’s postseason and portions of their 2021 tedious seasons.
There still is the matter of the playoffs and ending that skid of 13 straight losses to the Yankees since Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS when Johan Santana got three double plays a year after getting five double plays in the 2003 ALDS opener.
Those postseason losses include some outcomes equally as excruciating as some of the regular season games such as Game 2 of 2009 on Alex Rodriguez’s tying homer and Mark Teixeira’s lined homer down the left field line. And then there was the 2017 wild-card game when the Twins knocked out Luis Severino in the first inning, led by three runs and wound up with an 8-4 loss.
October is a long ways off and the belief is both teams have good chances at being there, especially since the field is expanded but these are good times for the Twins and annoying times for the Yankees, whose bottom of the lineup is a mix of players normally not in those roles due to injuries, leading to frustration of being unable to consistently score and can be cited as a partial contributor for the offensive woes.
Regardless of who is or is not in the Yankee lineup, you will hear about the 22 years it took for the Twins to finally slay the demon known as the regular season series and stay tuned to see if they can actually achieve it in a postseason setting.
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