Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees Preview and Pick – Scott Baker vs. AJ Burnett

Minnesota Twins (22-12) Scott Baker, at New York Yankees (22-12)
A.J. Burnett, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y., 7:05 PM EST, Friday, May
14th, 2010

by Badger of Predictem.com

Betting Line: Twins +170/Yankees -180
Total: 9.5

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If the playoffs were to begin today, tonights start of a three-game
set between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees in Yankee
Stadium in the Bronx would be one of the American Leagues first-
round matchups.

Of course, the playoffs dont start in May, and before we can talk about anything Twins-Yankees related anyway, the Twins as a team need
to prove to the Yankees and the rest of the baseball world that
theyre capable of beating them this year.

The Yankees dominated their head-to-head series with the Twins last
year beating them in all 10 games, including a few via walk-off
fashion at home in new Yankee Stadium and a three-game sweep in the
AL Divisional Series. The Twins misery isnt limited to just last
year either, because if you include the playoffs the Twins are just
5-27 against the Pinstripes over the years, so the Twins will
definitely be playing with a monkey on their back all weekend.

What adds a little intrigue into the game tonight is the fact that
there are still several media outlets across the Web that dont
even have the starters in the opener listed correctly. The Twins are
flip-flopping their starters, going with Scott Baker tonight and
Francisco Liriano on Saturday, but yet several odds-related sites and
even some news sites still list Liriano as tonights hurler.

The Yankees starter has never been in doubt, and thats right-hander A.J. Burnett.

Most sportsbooks opened their betting odds with the Yankees and
Burnett as -175 favorites at home on the overnight line, but the
number has actually gone up to -180 at some places after early
wagering. Offshore sportsbooks with dimeline odds or reduced juice
are listing the Twins as high as +170 underdogs on the moneyline, and
the over/under total is listed at 9.5 across the board at all of the
books on the Web.

Since there seems to be some indecision as to whom is starting for the Twins, lets look at the guy the Twins themselves are listing as
the likely candidate, and thats Baker.

Baker was the Twins opening day starter this year, but the team is
just 4-3 in his seven starts so far and his numbers (4.57 ERA, .309
OBP) are average and not really what youd expect from your ace.
Baker has pitched better of late (2-0, 1.26 WHIP) and he seems to be
throwing his sinker with more sink because his groundball-flyball
ratio is a stellar 2.00 (2-to-1) in his last three as well.

Hell need that sinker to stay down because Yankee Stadium is a
homerdome, and his history against the Pinstripes is decent (4.20
ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .317 OBP, .621 OPS) but nothing awe-inspiring, albeit
a small sample (only three starts). The righty did throw a gem in the
old Yankee Stadium (5 IP, 2 H, 1 R), but has yet to throw in the new
billion-dollar venue.

You might see little used outfielder Marcus Thames tonight for the Yanks too, since hes 8-for 26 lifetime against Baker including four
homeruns and a 1.103 OPS. Mark Teixeira is due for a good night too,
and hes 4-for-7 with a jack off Baker as well.

Burnett has been solid for the Yankees all season, with the team
winning five of his seven starts so far in 2010. However, his last
time out against the Red Sox was brutal (4.1 IP, 9 H, 9 R) so well
have to see if that was just a token outing against the rival Sox or
a sign of things to come from the righty.

The same story could be told for Burnett in his career versus the
Twins, solid but not spectacular. Sure hes 2-1 in six lifetime
starts, including 1-0 in two starts last year, and sure his ERA is
low (3.72). But hes certainly been knocked around a little bit
(1.769 WHIP, .383 OBP) and somehow seemed to wiggle off the hook by
only allowing four runs in 13 innings last year.

The Joe Mauer-Justin Morneau duo from the left side of the plate is
Burnetts biggest worry, as Morneau is 4-for-14 with a homer and a .
974 OPS on him and Mauer is 5-for-13 with a .928 OPS.

I already mentioned the Twins 0-for-10 in games versus the Yanks last
year, so if that aint a betting trend then I dont know what youre
looking for exactly. Six of those wins came in new Yankee Stadium,
but interestingly only two of the six were decided by more than a run.

The under was also a strong play last season, going 6-3-1 overall in
the 10 games and 4-2-1 in Yankee Stadium.

Badgers Pick: Im not sure what it is but I just dont trust
Burnett, especially at a steep -180 price. And until the Twins get
the monkey off their back, I cant confidently wager on them at
Yankee Stadium either. My money is on the over of 9.5 tonight.

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