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Appy League playoff preview08/30/2005 10:37 PM ET
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
Regular season series: Danville won series, 4-2
The Braves swept two from the Twins on July 28-29 at Elizabethton, with the third game postponed due to rain. The division winners met for a four-game set on Aug. 9-11 in Danville. After the Braves swept a series-opening doubleheader, the Twins finally struck back by winning the final two contests.
Game 1: Danville at Elizabethton
Cuevas finished second in the Appy League with a 1.95 ERA and six wins. He struck out 69 in 55 1/3 innings and was named Pitcher of the Year for his efforts. He's coming off one of his poorest outings, allowing three runs -- two earned -- on four hits in four innings on Aug. 26 against Johnson City. He walked five and struck out six. Cuevas didn't face Elizabethton this season
Mullins, the Twins' third-round pick in this year's draft out of Vanderbilt, is third in the league with a 2.18 ERA. The lefty struck out 60 and walked just 13 in 53 2/3 innings during the season. In two outings against Danville, Mullins didn't get a decision but allowed just two earned runs on six hits in 10 innings, walking none and striking out 13. Unlike Cuevas, Mullins will be building off his best outing of the year, a seven-inning, one-hit shutout against Greeneville on Aug. 20.
At the Plate
Elizabethton last won the Appy League title in 2003. The Twins, part of the league since 1974, also were champions in 1978, 1984, 1989-90 and 2000. ... Danville joined the league as a Braves' affiliate in 1993 and has yet to win a championship. ... This is an Appy version rematch of the classic 1991 World Series, won by the Twins in seven games. Jack Morris was the series MVP after winning two games and going 10 innings in the finale.
Series could turn on ...
Pitching. While the Twins have lost some of the top arms in the lower levels of a deep Minnesota system, most recently Alexander Smit to the Netherlands for the World Cup, they still have some quality on the mound. In a best-of-three series, all it takes is Ryan Mullins and one other pitcher to be on at the right time to stife the Braves' powerful offense.
It'd be great to go with the underdog and pick the Twins, and if they had some of the talent that's come and gone -- Kevin Slowey, Matt Garza, Alexander Smit, Steven Tolleson -- they'd have a legitimate shot. These teams are 1-2 in hitting and pitching. Danville has the best batting average in the league, but clearly outstrips No. 2 Elizabethton in runs scored and slugging. The Twins have the best Appy League ERA, with the Braves right behind (though their staff took a hit with the trade of Todd Blackford to the Cubs on Monday). In the end, though, the bats of Campbell, Ramirez and Owings will be too much for the pitching left in Elizabethton. Braves in three
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.