Mauer recalls playoff struggles with Yankees
Minnesota has no other holdovers from ALDS eliminations against New York
NEW YORK — Joe Mauer remembers well all those October losses to the New York Yankees.
Around the rest of the Minnesota Twins clubhouse, though, it may as well be ancient history.
Back in the playoffs for the first time in seven years, Mauer and the Twins will face the Yankees today in the American League wild-card game hoping to turn around what has been a one-sided postseason rivalry.
New York eliminated Minnesota in the AL Division Series four times from 2003 to 2010, but Mauer is the Twins’ only holdover from that era. Minnesota now has a new batch of budding young stars, and it’s a group that’s already wrecked some history. Powered by Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, these Twins became the first team ever to go from 100 losses one year to the playoffs the next.
“I’m really excited for this group to experience this,” Mauer said. “There’s a lot of guys in our clubhouse that this is their first go-round. I was just real happy. It’s been a special year to see these guys kind of grow.”
The Yankees have also been fueled by burgeoning big leaguers. Aaron Judge headlines the crew after setting a rookie record with 52 home runs. Only Brett Gardner, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley started for New York in its previous playoff appearance, a 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros in the 2015 wild-card game.
“The faces have changed so much,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who managed New York past Minnesota in the 2009 and 2010 ALDS.
Limiting Judge may be the most pivotal task for Twins starter Ervin Santana.
“Don’t try to leave any cookies right there,” Santana said.
As of Monday afternoon, Twins manager Paul Molitor said he hadn’t decided on Sano’s status for the game. The 24-year-old has been recovering from a stress reaction in his left shin, and missed 38 games before returning to action Friday. He was pulled for a pinch hitter Sunday after feeling some discomfort in the leg.
Molitor thinks Sano will at least be available off the bench.
“Whether he’s going to start or not, I still haven’t inked it in yet,” Molitor said.