MLB News Story - A capsule look at the Twins-Yankees playoff game

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A capsule look at the Twins-Yankees playoff game

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

By The Associated Press

A look at the American League wild-card game between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees:

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Schedule: Tuesday, at New York, 8:09 p.m. EDT (ESPN).

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Season Series: Yankees won 4-2.

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Projected Lineups:

Twins: 2B Brian Dozier (.269, 34 HRs, 93 RBIs, .853 OPS), 1B Joe Mauer (.305, 7, 71, team-leading 36 doubles, .384 OBP), SS Jorge Polanco (.256, 13, 74), LF Eddie Rosario (.290, 27, 78), DH Miguel Sano (.264, 28, 77, team-high 173 Ks in 114 games) or Kennys Vargas (.253, 11, 41 in 78 games) or Robbie Grossman (.246, 9, 45, .361 OBP in 119 games), 3B Eduardo Escobar (.254, 21, 73 in 129 games), CF Byron Buxton (.253, 16, 51, 150 Ks, 29/30 steals), RF Max Kepler (.243, 19, 69), C Jason Castro (.242, 10, 47 in 110 games).

Yankees: LF Brett Gardner (.264, 21, 63, 96 runs, 23 SBs), RF Aaron Judge (.284, AL-leading 52, 114), C Gary Sanchez (.278, 33, 90 in 122 games), SS Didi Gregorius (.287, 25, 87), DH Chase Headley (.273, 12, 61) or Matt Holliday (.231, 19, 64 in 105 games), 2B Starlin Castro (.300, 16, 63 in 112 games), CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.264, 7, 39, 22 SBs in 112 games) or Aaron Hicks (.266, 15, 52 in 88 games), 3B Todd Frazier (.213, 27, 76 with White Sox and Yankees), 1B Greg Bird (.190, 9, 28 in 48 games).

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Starting Pitchers:

Twins: RH Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA, 167 Ks in 211 1/3 IP).

Yankees: RH Luis Severino (14-8, 2.98, 230 Ks in 193 1/3 IP).

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Relievers:

Twins: RH Matt Belisle (2-2, 4.03 ERA, 9/14 saves, .218 opponent batting average), LH Taylor Rogers (7-3, 3.07, 49 Ks in 55 2/3 IP), RH Trevor Hildenberger (3-3, 3.21, 44 Ks in 42 IP), RH Alan Busenitz (1-1, 1.99, 23 Ks in 31 2/3 IP), RH Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.89, 25 starts, 139 Ks in 145 2/3 IP), RH Tyler Duffey (2-3, 4.94, 67 Ks in 71 IP), LH Ryan Pressly (2-3, 4.70, 61 Ks in 61 1/3 IP).

Yankees: LH Aroldis Chapman (4-3, 3.22, 22/27 saves in 52 games, 69 Ks in 50 1/3 IP), RH Dellin Betances (3-6, 2.87, 10/13 saves in 66 games, 100 Ks in 50 2/3 IP), RH David Robertson (9-2, 1.48, 14/16 saves in 61 games with Yankees and White Sox), RH Chad Green (5-0, 1.83, 103 Ks in 69 IP), RH Tommy Kahnle (2-4, 2.59, 96 Ks in 62 2/3 IP with Yankees and White Sox), RH Adam Warren (3-2, 2.35 in 44 games), LH Chasen Shreve (4-1, 3.77 in 44 games), RH Bryan Mitchell (1-1, 5.79 in 20 games), LH Jaime Garcia (5-10, 4.41 in 27 starts for Braves, Twins and Yankees).

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Matchups:

Minnesota has lost 12 consecutive playoff games since the 2004 ALDS opener at Yankee Stadium when Johan Santana beat Mike Mussina 2-0. ... Counting the postseason, Yankees are a whopping 89-33 against the Twins since the start of 2002, including 45-14 in the Bronx. Twins have been eliminated by New York in four of their past five trips to the playoffs, losing Division Series in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010 for an overall record of 2-12. ... Yankees are in the wild-card game for the second time in three seasons after losing to Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros 3-0 in 2015. New York hasn't won a postseason game since Derek Jeter broke his ankle in the 2012 ALCS opener against Detroit, which went on to a sweep. ... Yankees outscored the Twins 18-6 during a three-game sweep in New York from Sept. 18-20, with Sano in the thick of his 38-game absence due to a left shin injury. Ervin Santana took a tough loss in the series opener after allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings. He is 6-10 with a 5.66 ERA in 20 career starts against the Yankees. ... Twins won two of three games vs. the Yankees in Minnesota from July 17-19. ... Severino faced the Twins for the first time on Sept. 20, giving up three runs and five hits in three innings. He was taken out after throwing 46 pitches in the third, which included an RBI single by Mauer that capped a 13-pitch at-bat - longest of his career. Severino also gave up Polanco's two-run single. ... New York went 51-30 at home, best in the AL, while the Twins were 44-37 on the road. ... On paper, Yankees have a huge advantage in the bullpen. ... The winner heads for Cleveland to play the AL Central champions in a best-of-five Division Series beginning Thursday. Twins went 7-12 against the defending AL champs this season; Yankees were 2-5.

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Big Picture:

Twins: After going 59-103 last season, worst record in the majors, Minnesota (85-77) quickly turned things around under Hall of Fame manager Paul Molitor and became the first team in history to lose 100-plus games and qualify for the playoffs the following year. This is the club's first postseason appearance since 2010 and only its second winning record during that span. ... After acquiring Garcia from Atlanta to boost the rotation, the front office flipped him to the Yankees days later - and sent All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler to Washington - right before the July 31 trade deadline in response to a rough road trip and a simultaneous surge by division rivals Cleveland and Kansas City. Minnesota responded by going 20-10 in August and rising above a crowd of mediocre contenders for the second AL wild card. ... Ervin Santana had some clunkers, but his performance in his second All-Star season was an immense lift for a pitching staff that languished at the bottom of baseball the last few years. With five complete games, he had more by himself than 27 other teams. Santana tied Cleveland ace Corey Kluber for the major league lead. ... Twins finished fourth in AL in runs and OPS. ... Mauer, the three-time AL batting champ, posted his eighth .300 season but first since 2013, when a concussion cut short his season and ended his days as a catcher. ... Nine players finished with at least 10 home runs, trailing only the 2006 team that had 11 players in double digits. ... Buxton's streak of consecutive steals is at 24. His 96.7 percent success rate led the majors and is a Twins single-season record. ... Twins haven't won a postseason series since 2002, when they beat Oakland 3-2 in the ALDS, then lost to the Angels 4-1 in ALCS.

Yankees: One year into a youth movement, the Baby Bombers blossomed fast under 10th-year manager Joe Girardi and returned New York to the postseason perhaps ahead of schedule. Not often are the Yankees a surprise winner, but this group already has exceeded early expectations. Led by Judge, Sanchez, Severino and a cast of productive veterans, New York (91-71) improved by seven wins over last season and finished with its best record since 2012. ... Once the Yankees jumped out to a strong start and showed they were legitimate contenders, general manager Brian Cashman got aggressive and dipped into a deep farm system for July trades that netted Frazier, Robertson, Kahnle and starting pitcher Sonny Gray. The imposing bullpen is loaded with power arms that can shorten a game, and the bench is a real strength if needed. ... New York was unable to catch rival Boston for the AL East crown, but the team played some of its best baseball down the stretch and went 20-8 in September to secure the franchise's 53rd postseason appearance. The Dodgers are second with 31. ... Yankees scored 858 runs, an increase of 178 from last year and second in the majors behind Houston (896). New York also topped the big leagues with 241 homers. Judge and Sanchez combined for 85, most by a pair of teammates 25 or younger and one more than Milwaukee's Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in 2007. ... Judge hit .329 with 30 home runs and 75 RBIs before winning the All-Star Home Run Derby, then slumped to a .179 batting average with seven homers, 16 RBIs and 67 strikeouts in 151 at-bats through Aug. 31. He hit .311 with 15 homers and 32 RBIs in September, putting himself right back in the MVP conversation. ... New York figures to start just four players from its lineup in the 2015 wild-card game: Gardner, Headley, Bird and Gregorius.

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Watch For:

- Bull Dozier. Perhaps the team's most well-rounded player, Dozier joined Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett (1986-90) as the only Twins with five consecutive seasons of 30-plus doubles. Dozier also topped 100 runs for the fourth straight time.

- Extra Bases. Sanchez had 16 passed balls, tied for the big league lead with Yasmani Grandal of the Dodgers. New York threw 53 wild pitches when Sanchez was behind the plate, second-most among major league catchers behind Jonathan Lucroy (58 with Texas and Colorado).

- Closing Time. After losing his top reliever two months ago, Molitor eventually settled on a 14-year veteran to handle the ninth inning. Belisle has converted nine of 11 save opportunities since Kintzler was traded. With 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings, Belisle posted his best rate since 2010 with Colorado and the second-best of his career.

- Setup Scenario. A four-time All-Star, Betances struggled with his mechanics and control down the stretch, leading Girardi to have a quick hook in the late innings. The 6-foot-8 righty walked seven over his final 9 2/3 innings and finished with 44 walks, up from 28 last year.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Updated October 2, 2017

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