Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees Preview and Pick – Washburn vs. Ponson

Minnesota Twins (55-43) +120, 9 at New York Yankees (53-45), 7 pm Eastern Monday
by Zman of Predictem.com

A couple of teams right in the thick of the American League playoff race meet when the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees play the opener of a three-game series Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

Baseball bookmakers are listing the Yankees and starting pitcher Sidney Ponson (5-1, 3.96) as 130 home favorites for Monday’s game, with a total of 9 1/2, while the Twins and Nick Blackburn (7-5, 3.65) are getting +120 as road underdogs.

Minnesota just outscored Texas 20-3 over three games this weekend, but could only manage to take two of the games, because they got shut out 1-0 Sunday on three hits. Still, the Twins are 21-7 over their last 28 games.

Meanwhile, New York just swept three games from the A’s over the weekend, outscoring Oakland 13-5. So going into this series, Minnesota sits in second place in the AL Central, just a half-game back of the first-place Chicago White Sox, while the Yanks are in third place in the AL East, 4 games back of the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

Minnesota is 21-24 on the road this year, 33-35 as underdogs, and a very profitable 63-35 vs. the run line.

New York is 30-22 at home this season, and has won their last eight in a row at Yankee Stadium. They’re also 44-33 as favorites, but just 38-59 vs. the run line.

These two teams have split four games so far this year, with the totals going 3-1, as the games have averaged 10.3 total runs per. Last year, the Yanks took the season series from the Twins 5-2, with the totals going 2-4-1, as the games averaging 8.9 total runs per.

Over his last three starts, including a quality outing vs. Detroit eight days ago, Blackburn has allowed four ER and 17 baserunners (hits + walks) in 20 2/3 IP. Minnesota is 10-9 in Blackburn’s starts this year, the totals 9-10.

Blackburn, whose ERA is nearly two runs higher this year on the road than at home, has started once in his career vs. the Yankees, holding them to one ER on eight BR in 4 1/3 IP on June 1 before leaving the game after getting hit in the face by a line drive.

Over his last three starts, including a good performance vs. Tampa 12 days ago, Ponson has given up eight ER and 28 BR in 17 IP. New York is 3-0 in Ponson’s starts this year, the totals 1-2.

Ponson has started two games already this year vs. the Twins, both as a member of the Texas Rangers, allowing two ER and 15 BR in 14 1/3 IP.

Offensively, Minnesota ranks 4th in the majors this season in team BA at .279, 10th in team OBP at .337, 14th in team slugging at .411, and is averaging 4.9 runs per game.

New York ranks 7th in batting at .267, 7th in OBP at .340, 12h in slugging at .413, and is averaging 4.6 RPG.

Over the last five games, the Minnesota bullpen has held opponents to two ER and seven BR in nine IP.

Over its’ last five games, the New York pen has given up just two ER and 14 BR in 16 IP.

On the personnel front, OFs Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon are still on NY’s DL with various injuries. Damon may be back soon, but Matsui’s prognosis is much worse.

The totals are 52-45 in Twins games this year, a surprisingly lopsided 35-60 in Yankees games, and 18-31 in games played at Yankee Stadium , which are averaging 9.2 total runs this season.

Zman’s Pick: I’m forecasting that a heck of a lot of runs will be scored tonight. Take the over 9.5 runs!