One of the best stories in baseball in recent years was the trio of AL Central Titles won by the Minnesota Twins immediately after Commissioner Bud Selig threatened the team with contraction. Unfortunately, that story does not have a happy ending as, while we have all been waiting around for the Twins to convert their seemingly endless supply of young talent into a more meaningful title, the team has regressed into mediocrity. That the left side of their infield is populated by Juan Castro and Tony Batista, the latter of whom spent 2005 playing in Japan, should be evidence enough of that.
That said, the Twins are always going to be dangerous because of their pitching, which is why it's fortuitous that the Yankees are catching them this early in the season. One game shy of two times through their rotation, the Twins starters have a combined ERA of 6.63 and would-be two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana, who will go tomorrow against Jaret Wright's first start of the season, has yet to win a game.
Tonight, the Yankees face 24-year-old rookie Scott Baker, who beat out Francisco Liriano (the left-handed future star who is generally considered the second coming of Santana) for the fifth starter's spot in spring training. While no pushover himself, Baker took the loss in his first start, allowing three runs on nine hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings against the powerful Indians' lineup. A decent first outing spoiled by the fact that the Twins bats couldn't muster a single run against Jason Johnson, Gullermo Mota and Bob Wickman.
Mike Mussina takes the hill for the Yanks, looking to build upon his surprisingly strong performance in his first two starts.