MINNEAPOLIS, OCT. 6 -- By all the popular measuring sticks, the 1987 American League Championship Series that airs at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday ought to be a lopsided one. The Detroit Tigers won 13 more games than the Minnesota Twins, scored 110 more runs, hit 29 more home runs and held opponents to a lower earned run average.

If the best-of-seven series were to be played on paper, the Tigers might breeze through it. Their problem is that as many as four games will be played not on paper but here in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, where the bounces are unpredictable, the roof gray and the sounds strange.

It's the stadium where outfielders regularly lose balls in the lights and where a 23-foot tarpaulin hangs above the right field fence. Outfielders don't play the ball off the tarp so much as they guess at it. Yet that strange blue wall is perfect for a stadium that isn't filled with crowd noises so much as the piped-in sounds of a locomotive engine, a whistle and a Tarzan scream.

The Twins have been accused of using more than the turf to their advantage. Recently, they were caught with a television monitor in their dugout, and several managers have wondered if they might not be using a monitor -- or something -- to steal signs from the opposing catcher.

Regardless, for the Twins, a team with power built around speed and contact hitters, this may be the perfect setting and apparently a big reason they had the best home record in the AL (56-25) and haven't had a losing record here since 1983.

What it doesn't explain is what happens to the Twins when they leave the Metrodome: 29-52 on the road, the worst traveling record ever for a division champion.

Today, as temperatures dipped into the 40s and 20-mph winds swirled outside the stadium, both teams talked about the disadvantages -- and advantages -- of playing inside.

"The lighting here is something you never get accustomed to if you're a visiting player," said Don Baylor, who was traded to the Twins by the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 31. "You can always see a fluctuation of lighting. By the time you get over that feeling, you're down by two runs."

The road?

"There's no way to explain it," Manager Tom Kelly said. "I don't have an answer and haven't heard one from anyone else, either."

The Twins will send left-hander Frank Viola (17-10, 2.90) out to oppose Detroit's Doyle Alexander (9-0, 1.53) in Wednesday's first game, a matchup of power and intimidation against finesse and brains.

Alexander has been one of baseball's remarkable stories since the Tigers acquired him from the National League's Atlanta Braves in August. Not only is he 9-0, but the Tigers are 11-0 in his starts. With almost every start, the Tigers whisper, "This can't continue." With every start, it does.

The Twins don't say that about Viola, who at the age of 27 and with a new change-up could be one of the game's dominant pitchers for the next decade. He entered this season with a 63-64 career record and his previous claim to fame had been durability, having pitched 257, 250 and 245 innings the last three seasons, respectively.

He was pitching those innings and losing those games at a time when the Twins had a terrible bullpen and, according to Viola, "The bullpen didn't blow games for me. I blew them for myself because I was left out there to throw 140 or 150 pitches a lot of games."

This season, two important things have happened to Viola: he developed a first-rate change-up to go with his 92-mph fastball, and the Twins traded for Jeff Reardon, one of the best relievers in the game. Another crossover from the NL, Reardon has saved 31 games, and for a team that blew 16 late leads in 1986, has been like a gift from heaven.

"He's the difference between first place and sixth place," third baseman Gary Gaetti said.

And he has been helped by the addition of middle man Juan Berenguer (8-1, 3.94).

"I used to pace myself in games," Viola said, "and that's no way to pitch. That means I'm out there sometimes not giving my best. Now, I go as hard as I can for as long as I can and turn it over to the bullpen."

The other major factor is how the Twins will deal with the pressures of the playoffs, the franchise's first in 17 years.

Few people question their talent, especially a batting order that has Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek and Gaetti, who combined for 93 homers and 298 RBI. People do wonder how they will deal with the tensions of the moment.

"Pressure shouldn't even matter," Viola said. "This is a chance for the country to find out about the Minnesota Twins."

Then there were the Tigers, who bounced into their afternoon workout sounding like a team with the weight of the world off its shoulders. They won the AL East by beating Toronto four straight times the last week -- all in one-run games.

They have had a problem with left-handed pitchers this season, going 22-29 against them and 76-35 against right-handers. However, they defeated the Twins eight times in 12 games this season, including four times in six games at the Metrodome.

"Today, no one feels much of anything," shortstop/team leader Alan Trammell said. "Tomorrow, you see all the people pouring into the stadium, and there's a little tension. We feel we can handle that."

Manager Sparky Anderson discounted his team being overconfident, saying, "I've never been around a team that was overconfident. I know I'm scared to death . . . Nothing is ever easy about being here. This is my seventh time {in postseason play}, and I'm as edgy now as the first time. I'll be as edgy as Tom Kelly and our players will be as edgy as their players. If we're the best club, we're going to win. If we're not, we won't make excuses."