Given that the Twins’ season is balancing on the edge of a precipice, a showdown with the Yankees would usually be the last thing Minnesotans would want to see. But these are not your big brother’s Yankees; they lost a series to the Twins a month ago in Yankee Stadium. Add to that a long weekend, a retiring legend, an exciting new pitcher and (at least initially) gorgeous weather and you have a lot of reasons to grab some tickets to Target Field this weekend.
Those Damn Yankees
The Yankees have been stuck in the middle of the AL East since mid-May and their weaknesses start where we thought they would: an aging offense. Their lineup ranks 20th overall in runs scored, even behind the Twins. You’ll still recognize a lot of the names: Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ichiro Suzuki, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira – but they’re not the same guys you remember. The second highest OPS on the team belongs to leadoff hitter Brett Gardner. Teixera leads the club with an 810 OPS, which is lower than that of Josh Willingham (856) or even Yankees castoff Eduardo Nunez (841).
The starting pitching isn’t a whole lot better, also ranking 20th overall in the majors in ERA. And even that is heavily skewed by the outstanding work of…well….let’s talk about him in a second. The rotation lost CC Sabathia to a degenerative knee condition and he won’t return until late July. Hideki Kuroda has been fairly average, and the Twins will try to prove that on Sunday. The back-end of the rotation is covered by household names like Phelps, Whitley and Nuno.
THIS is the Ticket
But the rotation has a hell of an anchor, making Thursday night’s ticket the prize of the weekend. Mashiro Tanaka will make his first appearance at Target Field. For both legitimate and illegitimate reasons, the Japanese rookie is in a strong position to win the AL Cy Young Award. The less legitimate reasons: he has eleven wins already and pitches in New York City. But he’s more than worthy. He enters this series with a 2.10 ERA. He has 127 strikeouts versus just 18 walks. And he’ll be among the league leaders in innings pitched after this, his seventeenth start. Not every guy that costs the Yankees $180 million is worth the cash, but Tanaka has matched and exceeded expectations.
Plus, he’s facing Phil Hughes, the discarded Yankees prospect who has rejuvenated his career with the Twins. The last time he faced the Yankees he threw eight innings, giving up two runs and clinched the series winner in Yankee Stadium. You have my permission to get a little giddy about this game.
Time To Say Goodbye
The Yankees, Major League Baseball and the media have been keeping this very hush-hush, but Derek Jeter is going to retire after this year. So this will be your last chance to boo him. Make it count.
The weather on Thursday night and Friday afternoon is going to be gorgeous. Saturday and Sunday look a little more cloudy, with a small chance of rain, so you might want to aim for the sunnier and warmer third base line for those games. Or, if you’re a complete pessimist, the covered seats in left field.
Plus, the Twins are running holiday weekend promotions. Did you know on Thursdays the Twins offer $2 drafts from 5:30-6:30 to sip while watching batting practice? On Friday the Twins are giving away Lou Gehrig bobblehead dolls. You read that right – the Twins are giving away a Yankee bobblehead. They’re celebrating the 75th anniversary of Gehrig’s Farewell Speech. I offer this news without comment.
The Twins regain a portion of their sanity on Saturday, offering Tom Brunansky bobbleheads to the first 10,000 fans. I should also mention that if you’re dating someone who has a Derek Jeter fetish, the Twins will be honoring him before this game.
If that seems like an awful lot of celebration of a team that Minnesotans love to hate – and that the Twins need to beat – well, I agree with you. There is only one way to combat that, of course: show up.
Even on a weekend like this, Ticket King has you covered. I count 140 Twins tickets available for Thursday night, including one block of 14 seats if you and a group want to have a happy hour to kick off the weekend and watch an awesome pitching matchup. Friday’s 4th of July afternoon game is perfect for the kids. Wow – there are Champion Club seats available for the Saturday afternoon game when they honor Jeter. Sunday looks like it might have the most availability. All are an even better deal if you use the promo code DAILYDOUBLE, which will get you 10% off and supports Twins Daily. Whatever your needs, your local ticket supplier, Ticket King, can help.