NEW YORK -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire knows his team is typically better off when the opposing starter isn't a left-hander -- especially when that lefty is Yankees ace CC Sabathia.
After all, the Twins -- led by left-handed sluggers Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau -- hadn't defeated Sabathia since July 29, 2007, entering play Sunday. In 12 starts against the Twins before Sunday's first-half finale -- including the postseason -- the Yankees' southpaw went 11-0 with a 2.01 ERA.
"He's a horse," Gardenhire said. "We put anyone in there today that has any numbers against him. We are a left-handed-hitting team, so that makes it a little tougher for us. Our big guys are the big lefties and they don't have good numbers on him -- and you don't say that about Mauer and Morneau too often."
Morneau entered play just a .128 (6-for-47) lifetime hitter with one home run compared to 10 strikeouts against Sabathia. As for Mauer, the Twins catcher came in having struck out more times against Sabathia (17) than any other big league pitcher. He had also been limited to a .178 (8-for-45) career average while failing to homer against the former Cy Young Award winner.
Minnesota's lineup on Sunday, however, had a few players who had experienced rare success against Sabathia. Third baseman Jamey Carroll, 4-for-10 in his career against Sabathia, hit eighth in the series finale, while designated hitter Trevor Plouffe (3-for-9) and center fielder Clete Thomas (3-for-6) hit fifth and seventh, respectively.
"We've faced him a lot of times," Gardenhire said. "So we put the guys, like I said, with the most at-bats against him and who at least have some numbers, and we'll take our shot."