For the past decade or so, the Yankees have owned the Twins in the postseason. Since the Yankees are always one of the best teams in the American League, that is nothing for Minnesota to be ashamed of. New York has owned a lot of teams, mostly because of how talented their roster is year in and year out. That may not be the only reason they have been able beat the Twins in four series since 2003, however. Former Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter says the Twins have been intimidated by the Bronx Bombers, which may help explain the results.
“Some guys were nervous, all nervous,” Hunter said of his former teammates according to Eye on Baseball. “There were a lot of guys mentally down — like, ooh, we drew the Yankees.’ Just play the game. Once it gets in your head, you’re done.”
As evidence, Hunter told a story about a game during the 2004 ALDS when the Twins were trailing by a run with a runner on third and one out. Torii says one of Minnesota’s right-handed batters was asked to pinch hit against Mariano Rivera and refused.
“You need a righty hitter against Rivera with his cutter,” Hunter said, noting that Jason Kubel — a left-handed hitter — had to bat instead. “Kubel wasn’t afraid, but he’s a lefty hitter.”
Another former Twin, Michael Cuddyer, called Hunter’s comments “pretty accurate.” The Yankees are dangerous and Rivera has arguably the most devastating pitch in MLB history, but being legitimately afraid of the competition at that level is embarrassing. If I were a Twins fan, Hunter’s revelation would annoy me beyond belief.
UPDATE: Current Twins have denied Hunter’s assertion.
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