New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia announced before the season that 2019 would be the final one of his 19-year major league career. And it's doubtful that any team was happier to hear the news than the Minnesota Twins.
The 39-year-old Sabathia is scheduled to make his final regular season start at Target Field in Minneapolis in Monday night when the American League East-leading Yankees open a three-game series with the AL Central-leading Twins.
Sabathia (5-4, 4.06 ERA) is 20-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 39 career starts against Minnesota and is 12-1 in his last 16 starts against the Twins. The 20 wins are tied with Justin Verlander of the Astros for the most of any active player and also rank eighth all-time against Minnesota.
Minnesota will counter with left-hander Martin Perez (8-3, 4.10), who is 2-2 with a 9.68 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees.
The Twins have struggled badly against the Yankees over the last decade, compiling a 20-48 record since 2010 including a woeful 10-23 mark at Target Field. However, Minnesota has won two of three from New York in each of the last two years at home.
The Twins, who have seen their AL Central lead over the three-time defending division champion Cleveland Indians shrink from 11 1/2 games to three in the last month, come in off a dramatic 7-6 walk-off victory over Oakland on Sunday to earn a split of their four-game series with the A's.
Max Kepler went 3-for-6 with a homer, double and four RBIs and drove in Ehire Adrianza, who had tripled in the tying run, with a line single off All-Star reliever Liam Hendriks with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
"Our guys earned this win," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "This was a hard-fought series. This was a hard-fought game against a very good team, and we continued to just fight and never quit, and it's pretty unbelievable.
"There were moments where the odds were probably against us and there wasn't one moment where anybody in our dugout, or our team, or our staff, who laid down at any point. Our guys continued to duke it out and ultimately got a tremendous win."
New York begins a seven-game road trip that concludes with four games at Boston and comes into the contest with a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees own the best record in the American League at 64-34 but come in off an 8-4 home loss to Colorado on Sunday that saw them finish with a season-low four hits, three of which were home runs.
"We're in a really good position right now," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "I think it's (about) not getting caught up in what these other teams are doing and really focusing on our day.
"We're going to get on a plane and we're going to Minnesota to play a really good Twins team, a team that's obviously a force right now in the American League, and we've got to go play well, and that's kind of how we look at it. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge, to go there and play a really good club."
--Field Level Media