Game 67: NYY vs. MIN — Twin City Tanaka Time

So, the Twin Cities faced Mother Nature a bit tonight, delaying the start of the game about a half-hour and basically raining through most of the game. Oh, and there was quite a bit of wind. It made most fans either take shelter under the concourse or just leave the park altogether. But there were the few brave, intrepid Minnesotans, with those ugly plastic ponchos (if they were lucky) who stayed the course and watch the Yankees clobber the Twins tonight.

Well, the Yankees certainly set their minds early to win this one, etching their win into the scoreboard solely in the first half and spending the game defending this under the pretty good outing by starter Masahiro Tanaka. Of course, a good portion of this could be that the Twins are just not very good at all this year. I said yesterday that perhaps this trip couldn’t come at a better time for the Yankees to right their own course this season. It’s almost sad it had to be against the Twins during what is turning out to be a rather forgettable season for them.

To earn his 4th win of the season, Tanaka threw 110 pitches through 8 innings, giving up 7 hits and 1 run, striking out 5 batters. A lead-off single in the 2nd moved to 3rd on a double and then scored on a ground out for the Twins’ first run of the evening. Nick Goody got the ball for the 9th inning giving up a 1-out solo home run (though just hearing cheers from the crowd, you might’ve guessed it was a walk-off grand slam or something).

Small weird trivia bit here: the Twins player that hit that double in the 2nd and the home run in the 9th actually went 3-for-4 against Tanaka and Goody, hitting his first home run of the season (though he’s not really a known home run hitter, only 22 total in his 7 year career). He seemed to be the only Twins player that really had the Yankees’ pitching number tonight.

The Twins’ pitchers, however, were giving away numbers left and right (is that even a metaphor?). Right in the 1st inning, Ellsbury singled and then scored on Rob Refsnyder’s RBI double. Yankee Universe is certainly glad to see Carlos Beltran back in the lineup consistently again, especially as he promptly followed up Refsnyder’s RBI with a big 2-run home run (his 17th homer of the season). After finally recording an out, Castro walked, moved to 3rd on Headley’s double, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single (beating out the tag at 1st) before a double play ended the 4-run inning.

Then in the 3rd, they loaded the bases with no outs. Gregorius hit into a force out at 2nd that scored lead base runner Rodriguez. The Twins’ manager mercifully called it a night for their starter, getting roughed up by Yankee bats tonight. With a new pitcher in place, Gregorius stole 2nd to put himself in scoring position behind the Castro at 3rd. Austin Romine’s double scored both Gregorius and Castro to push the Yankee lead way ahead.

In the 4th inning, Refsnyder led-off with a single, ended up at 3rd on Beltran’s single, and then scored on Castro’s sacrifice fly to cap off the Yankee offense. Yes, right there in the 4th inning, the Yankees scored all they were going to score.

To be fair, the Twins’ bullpen was marketedly better and more efficient than their starter and his initial long-term reliever. But the damage was done — 14 total hits by Yankee batters, 6 allowed walks, and just 2 total strikeouts.

Final score: 8-2 Yankees.

The Yankees have two more games in Minnesota this weekend before heading home to host the Rockies (brief 2-game series) and Twins (3-game weekend series). And if that doesn’t feel like a weird case of deja vu, I don’t know what does.

(Because it’s rather quiet in Yankee Universe) It’s random trivia time: The “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul have competed for sole prominence since their founding in the 19th century. Their rivalry was so entrenched it spilled over into competing sports teams, architectural feats, and a gang war that consisted of arresting and kidnapping census takers from the rival city. The baseball rivalry was particularly nasty when the 1923 game between the Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints erupted into city-wide violence. There was even a dispute in the middle of the 20th century over the proper daylight savings time calendar resulting in Minneapolis residents living an hour behind residents St. Paul for a few weeks.

But what solved the rivalry? Oddly, sports in 1961. The Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) were created to encompass the entire state, thus eliminating all potential rivalries between the Twin Cities. It was like when Mom used to solve any argument by saying “I love you both the same, and your chocolate cake is the exact same as your brother’s”. And you know her word was law, so there was no more arguing about it.

Since this idea actually worked, all further sports teams were created as the “Minnesota” whatevers [Wild – NHL; Timberwolves – NBA; Lynx – WNBA; United FC – MLS, starting in 2017]. You could not get away with this in most other states, but there’s a simple reason this works — The Twin Cities “area” actually 7 (or 16, depending on the source) counties at the crux of 3 major rivers (Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix), taking up nearly a quarter of the entire state in area alone and comprising of 70% of the entire state’s population. It is literally most of Minnesota in population alone.

The only elements left of the Twin Cities’ former rivalry is in their city development. Minneapolis’ designs tend towards newer or more avant-garde architecture, while St. Paul sees that its newer buildings are within the context of classical and Victorian styles of the city’s original design and feel.

It kind of makes me appreciate my own city’s history and how it shaped and molded even things like from simple baseball game to even me.

Go Yankees!

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