NEW YORK — Because of the tone set by their manager, Rocco Baldelli, the players in the Twins’ clubhouse have become a group that remain positive no matter how poorly things might be going. This includes dropping the opening two games of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium and facing elimination on Monday night at Target Field.
So while players from a different organization might have been angry or defiant on Saturday night following an 8-2 loss, the Twins were having none of it. Outscored 18-6 in the first two games by the Yankees, having struck out 27 times and with a team earned-run average of 9.00, the Twins tried to look at the positive of heading home.
“Just getting to be back home and everything that comes with it,” said Max Kepler, who was 0-for-6 in the first two games. “To sleep in your own bed, get to wake up and go to the field, knowing they’re behind us to support us. Everything about it. Not just on the field stuff, but stuff (beyond) the field, off the field. It’ll be good to be home.”
There’s only one problem. Home actually wasn’t as sweet for the Twins this season as the road. The Twins won a Major League best 55 road games this season, while going 46-35 at Target Field. There were 12 clubs that won more home games than Minnesota.
The Yankees went 46-35 away from the Bronx and will throw righthander Luis Severino on Monday as they attempt to improve to 16-2 all-time in the postseason against Minnesota and beat the Twins in a playoff series for the sixth time, if you include the 2017 wild card game.
“Any time you play at home you feel the energy and you feed from that,” Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz said. “The Yankees play and feed from the fans, that should be the case.”
The Yankees had 49,233 at The Stadium for Game 1 and 49,277 for Game 2. Both were sold out and the Twins also will have a full house for Game 3.
“It’s huge. I’m assuming from the outside, you guys can notice, they benefit from playing at their ballpark,” Twins reliever Sergio Romo said. “Their fans are amazing supporters of the ball club, and they show it every night. Our fans are in the same boat, those guys pack the place too, they have confidence in us. Going home and playing for them kind of gives us a sense of pride, too. Because we want to defend our turf and win for our fans.”
It sounds good, but will it happen? A fan base that has seen the Twins be dominated by the Yankees in the playoffs for so many years will believe it when they see it.