The rivalry between the Yankees and the Twins is the best feud nobody’s ever noticed.
From a handful of regular season classics to a full volume of playoff matchups, these two teams know each other well. Unfortunately for the Twins, the rivalry is very much one-sided. Since 2002, the Twins are 34-110 against the Yankees.
To add insult to injury, the Twins’ last playoff victory came at Yankee Stadium in Game 4 of the 2004 ALDS. Is it really even a rivalry anymore if Minnesota serves as the Yankees’ glorified punching bag?
The answer is a resounding yes. Because putting aside the Yankees’ dominance of them, the Twins often put out legit teams. Just look at Wednesday night’s game, when they beat New York 8-1 and made Nestor Cortes look mortal.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and relive some of the most epic moments of the Yankees-Twins rivalry.
David Wells’ perfect game
Every Yankees fan remembers where they were on May 17, 1998. Some watched at home, some listened on the radio. Others, my then-12-year-old self included, were lucky to be in attendance. Wells, despite claiming to be hung over, carved up the Twins’ lineup in a 4-0 victory. Pat Meares popped out to Paul O’Neill, we all roared, and then went home with Yankees Beanie Babies as a rememberence.
Godzilla takes New York
Few remember just how big a deal it was when Hideki Matsui came to the Yankees from Japan. He was a .304 lifetime hitter with 332 home runs in ten years with the Yomiuri Giants, and now he had Yankee Stadium’s friendly confines at his disposal. The Twins were the Yankees’ Opening Day opponent and the man they called “Godzilla” took advantage. In the fifth inning, Joe Mays hung a curveball and paid accordingly.
A grand slam as his first MLB homer later, Hideki Matsui was officially a Yankee.
Jason Giambi walks it off
The Yankees landing Jason Giambi in 2002 was something of a free agency coup, but he got off to a streaky start in pinstripes. All was forgiven when the Twins came to visit the Bronx on May 17, 2002. It was a hard-fought game, with the Twins leading 12-9 in the 14th inning. Giambi came up to face Mike Trombley with the bases loaded and one out, and then hit a long grand slam into the rainy night.
This game is barely three years old and is still a classic. Juiced balls were on full display that humid summer evening at Target Field, as the Yankees and Twins changed leads left and right. Aaron Hicks not only had a clutch home run in the game, but ended it with this glorious catch. The Twins left the bases loaded, and Hicks hasn’t really done much as a Yankee since.
Didi “Wild Card” Gregorius
The 2017 AL Wild Card Game was an emotional roller coaster for Yankees fans. The Twins marched into New York and tagged alleged ace Luis Severino for three runs in the first inning, knocking him out of the game. Fortunately for the Yankees, pitching wasn’t Minnesota’s strong point. Didi Gregorius’ timely three-run shot tied the game in the first inning, and the Yankees ultimately won 8-4.
The Metrodome says farewell
Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS was pretty cut and dry. The Yankees beat the Twins 4-1 to complete the three-game sweep and move on to the ALCS, but this game also marked the end of an era. It was the final baseball game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which the Twins had called home for almost 30 years. The Yankees won the game, but the Twins certainly won the moment when closer Joe Nathan walked out to the mound and took some dirt as a keepsake.