The Twins' sole victory at Yankee Stadium last year sort of came out of nowhere.
It was May 16th, and New York had already decisively won the first two in a four-game set. They were on their way to a victory No. 3.
The Yanks led 3-1 heading into the eighth inning before, suddenly, the Twins started to show signs of life for the first time in the series. They loaded up the bases against Joba Chamberlain, who gave way to Mariano Rivera. Jim Thome pinch-hit for Drew Butera and coaxed a run-scoring walk, and then, in one of the most improbable moments in recent Twins history, Jason Kubel (who'd entered the at-bat with a .218 average) launched a grand slam against the greatest closer in history, pushing the Twins ahead for good.
Optimists viewed the spectacular bomb as a sign that the Twins had finally overcome their Yankee demons. Such hopeful thoughts were quickly abolished after the Bombers took two of three at Target Field a week later and went on to sweep Minnesota in three games -- for a second straight year -- in the ALDS.
Last night's thrilling come-from-behind victory shared many commonalities with the aforementioned ballgame. Again, the Twins had come into the game with their tails between their legs and fallen into an early hole. Again, the rally began innocuously enough -- a pair of walks and a single. And again, it was a free pass issued with the bases loaded that started the bleeding for New York.
But this time, the hit that buried the dagger was far less authoritative. Indeed, Delmon Young's chip shot into right field that managed to evade Nick Swisher's reach, clearing the bases, stands in stark contrast to Kubel's epic bomb against Rivera.
Twins fans who have grown tired of watching the Yankees stomp all over their club in recent years desperately wanted to believe that last year's epic Bronx comeback signified a true turnaround in this lopsided rivalry. That team failed to prove this was the case.
This, however, is a new year. Last night's victory was hardly enchanting, but it was a victory. And these 2011 Twins now have the opportunity to succeed where their predecessors failed: putting together a convincing, complete victory in Yankee Stadium. They'll have their top two starters on the mound the next two nights to try and accomplish the feat.
As far as early-season tests go, they don't get much more significant than this.