New York, New York

Twins get the Yankees in first round of playoffs


As soon as Twins pinch-hitter Jose Offerman struck out to end Sunday's scheduled game against Cleveland in the Metrodome, the Twins knew it was time to put things in perspective.

Yes, the Twins' 5-2 loss to Cleveland cost them home-field advantage in the first round of the American League playoffs, but there's another way to look at Sunday's events: The Twins still have a shot at the World Series and they managed to survive a season marked by injuries and low expectations.

"A lot of people said we wouldn't win the division again,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. "There's a little disappointment today, but we've accomplished a lot. I'm proud of this team.''


The Twins rolled out their positive attitude after Sunday's loss sent them back to New York for the first two games of their best-of-five AL Division Series against the Yankees. Game 1 is at 7 Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

A week ago Tuesday, the Twins were in New York for the start of a three-game series that the Yankees swept. With Cy Young Award candidate Johan Santana getting the start in Game 1 of the ALDS, the Twins feel much better about their return trip.

"We won't go in there awestruck,'' infielder Michael Cuddyer said of Yankee Stadium. "We won't play scared.''

The Twins (92-70) will need a boost in spirits after a 4-8 finish to the regular season since they clinched the AL Central Division title in Chicago on Sept. 20. They are 1-10 at Yankee Stadium over the past three seasons, including a loss to the Yankees in Game 2 of last year's divisional series.

Gardenhire did not spend much time talking about the home-field factor after Sunday's loss. He seemed more relieved the regular season finally was over and that the Twins had learned their playoff opponent.

"The key for us is that we get everybody healthy and play the way we have all year,'' Gardenhire said. "Getting Shannon (Stewart) back in the lineup was a big help to us. He swung the bat real well today. He gets us started.''

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