Less than a month ago, the New York Yankees dominated the Minnesota Twins during a series at home. The Twins hope to return the favor as the playoff contenders open a three-game set Monday night at the Metrodome.
Minnesota (65-52) was outscored 25-7 while being swept in the Bronx from July 21-23. The Twins, though, are 10-6 since and battling for the AL Central and wild card leads.
While Sunday’s 5-4, 12-inning loss at Kansas City snapped a three-game winning streak, Minnesota enters this series one-half game behind Chicago in the Central and 1 1/2 back of wild-card leader Boston.
Minnesota is 2-5 versus New York (63-55) this season, also splitting a home series with the Yankees from May 30-June 2. The Twins, though, have won eight straight series at the Metrodome, where they are 39-21.
“It’s going to be a fun series,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ official Web site. “We’d rather play them at home then at their place.”
New York limps into Monday’s contest after being swept in a three-game set by AL West-leading Los Angeles. Sunday’s 4-3 loss dropped the Yankees to 2-5 on their 10-game trip.
The Yankees, 5-10 since winning eight in a row, are 8 1/2 games behind in the AL East and four back of the wild card lead.
“We need to put together a streak, and hopefully we can go to Minnesota and win that series,” pitcher Andy Pettitte told the Yankees’ official Web site.
New York could be in good shape Monday with Sidney Ponson (7-2, 4.23 ERA) on the mound. He’ll make his second consecutive start against a former team after allowing three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 win at Texas on Wednesday.
Ponson, 3-1 with a 4.73 ERA since signing with New York after being released by Texas in June, is 11-2 with a 2.58 ERA against Minnesota. He went 2-5 with a 6.93 ERA in seven starts for the Twins during the 2007 season.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts versus Minnesota in 2008, including a complete-game 10-1 win May 21 while with Texas.
Alex Rodriguez had two doubles and an RBI on Sunday for the Yankees, who have been outscored 45-31 on their trip.
“Every game is a playoff from now on,” said Rodriguez, who had homered in two straight contests and is batting .464 (13-for-28) with two home runs and 11 RBIs versus the Twins this season. “We’ve got to come out fighting and play with a lot of urgency.”
New York looks for another strong effort against Minnesota’s Glen Perkins (8-3, 4.38), who allowed five runs in six innings of a 5-1 loss to the Yankees on July 23.
The left-hander, who gave up five runs and 12 hits in 6 1-3 innings but didn’t get the decision in an 11-6 loss at Seattle last Monday, is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two career starts versus New York - both this season.
Adam Everett drove in a pair of runs while Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau each had an RBI on Sunday for the Twins, who blew a pair of two-run leads en route to falling out of first place in the division.
“The easiest way to describe that game was we gave it away,” Gardenhire said.
Mauer has a hit in five straight games, but is 4-for-20 against New York in 2008.