MINNEAPOLIS — When Nelson Cruz speaks, the Twins listen.
So after they fell into a 2-0 hole in the ALDS on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, they heard from their veteran leader and took it to heart.
“He’s not necessarily a guy that’s long-winded and likes to give, like, catchphrases, but he kind of just said, we’re the Minnesota Twins,” reliever Trevor May said Sunday before the Twins worked out at Target Field. “I mean, they should respect that. We’re proud of that. We’re about to be in our park, and we’re going to hear our fans, and it’s going to be in our control. It’s time to go. How do you guys respond with your backs against the wall?
“I know personally it got me going a little bit. As if I needed more motivation, but it’s one of those things like, don’t give us an inch because we’ll take a mile type thing, and I think that’s been something — when doors have been opened for us all year, we’ve exploded through them. So that’s what we’re looking to do.”
The Twins don’t believe they have gotten to show who they are yet this series, but time is running out. After two games, the only thing they have done is extend the Yankees’ playoff winning streak over them to 12 games.
“The series is not over,” Cruz said. “We can win three in a row, definitely.”
Aside from three solo home runs, the power surge that turned the Twins into the 101-win Bomba Squad during the regular season has gone missing. They are batting just 13-for-66 (.197) with a .678 OPS, which manager Rocco Baldelli attributed in part to the Yankees not throwing many fastballs in the zone and instead pounding them with off-speed pitches. To make matters worse, their own starting pitching has been shaky and their bullpen even less reliable.
Baldelli didn’t sound like a manager ready to make wholesale changes to his lineup for Game 3 or do anything to disrupt the Twins’ normal routine. He made Sunday’s workout “extremely optional” for his players, he said, encouraging mental rest more than anything.
But the Twins don’t think their obituary should be written just yet.
“We have a game [Monday] and everything can change,” third baseman Miguel Sano said.
The Twins went 12-2 during the regular season after losing back-to-back games. And Monday’s Game 3 will come within the friendly confines of their own home as opposed to the intimidating environment that was Yankee Stadium. That has them ready, with Cruz’s reminder, to keep fighting.
“I think that we got punched in the mouth a couple times in New York,” May said, “but the thing about it is, we have pride to punch back.”