NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees know they dominated Minnesota the last two years. They just don't think it matters much.
"We haven't seen them in so long," Yankees manager Joe Torre said Monday. "They are basically not the same team that we played."
The Twins and Yankees were set to open the playoffs Tuesday in New York, with Mike Mussina (17-8) on the mound against Minnesota left-hander Johan Santana (12-3) in the first game of the best-of-five division series.
The Twins went 0-13 against New York the last two years -- the first time ever the Yankees swept consecutive season series from an opponent.
"I don't care what happened in the past," Twins star Torii Hunter said. "This is the postseason, this is a different feeling. I'm ready to play. I come here to win."
Hunter and his teammates have plenty of reasons to believe they can, despite their recent history against the AL East champions.
The matuchup: Minnesota (Santana 12-3) at New York (Mussina 17-8), 12:06 p.m.
Although the Yankees outscored Minnesota 49-13 this season, all seven games were in April. New York was en route to an 18-3 start, while the Twins stumbled out of the gate 9-12.
The Yankees also have outhomered Minnesota 31-3 in their 13 wins since last losing to the Twins on May 10, 2001.
"If I was in that particular situation, I think you'd just have to say forget about it," New York shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I hope it's a hurdle for them, but I don't think they'll dwell on that too much."
The Twins certainly don't plan to.
"You start looking at all the negatives, you get yourself killed," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Minnesota juiced up its offense at midseason by adding leadoff hitter Shannon Stewart and solidified its pitching staff by moving Santana from the bullpen to the top of the rotation.
The Twins took off in the second half, going a major league-best 46-23 after the All-Star break.
They overcame a 7 1/2-game deficit at the break, beating the Chicago White Sox five straight times in mid-September to take control of a tight race and win their second division title in two years under Gardenhire.
"The last month to me has been must-win baseball," said Stewart, acquired in a trade with Toronto during the All-Star break. "I don't know what the playoffs are like, but to me it can't be much harder than that."
The Yankees do know all about the postseason -- and the pressure that comes with it. They were upset by Anaheim in the first round last October, and owner George Steinbrenner won't stand still for a third consecutive season without winning the World Series.
With a $180 million payroll, another playoff failure could even cost Torre his job.
As for the small-market Twins, whose opening day payroll was $55.6 million, they have grown to relish the role they're most accustomed to.
"We're the Twins, we have to be the underdog," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We came up that way. We enjoy it. It just comes with being a Minnesota Twin."
Never more so than in this series.
"Payroll doesn't mean anything," Hunter said. "OK, we make minimum wage, but we go out there and we beat some teams that make a lot of money."
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