By Joe Christensen
The key for the Twins tonight in Game 1 of this Chicago series will be how their hitters handle the pressure of the moment against Chicago’s Javier Vazquez, who has struggled in big games himself.
Justin Morneau is 14-for-39 (.359) with six homers, four doubles, six walks and 13 RBI against Vazquez. But Morneau has struggled of late, batting just .212 since Sept. 14.
Joe Mauer (a career .321 hitter against Vazquez) is riding an 11-game hitting streak and has a .417 OBP this year, so Morneau should get chances with runners on base. But Morneau will see better pitches to hit if Vazquez sees a threat waiting behind him.
The DH decision likely comes down to Jason Kubel vs. Michael Cuddyer. Kubel is 2-for-21 (.095) against Vazquez, and Cuddyer is 12-for-35 (.343) with two homers and six RBI.
Delmon Young, is 5-for-14 (.357) against Vazquez, so the Twins can feel confident in many of these numbers. It’s just a matter of applying themselves in the biggest regular season series these players have ever played.