In their three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins, the New York Yankees capped off their homestand in impressive fashion. The Bronx Bombers made a statement and separation from the Twinkies in the AL Wild Card standings. While they can still win the AL East, after watching this series it almost doesn’t seem fair that the Yankees have to play a one-game playoff because between these two teams they looked like the one with much higher postseason ambitions.
New York also surpassed its win total from 2016 with 85 victories.
Tight October baseball in September. These are the types of games the players in pinstripes need to learn to win and they took a big step to that end in their 2-1 victory over the Twins.
The Bronx Bombers wasted no time getting on the board. In the first inning, Aaron Judge crushed home run No. 44 to right off Ervin Santana. Judge’s solo shot gave the Yankees a 1-0 advantage.
If he does nothing else and the Yankees make the playoffs by a game, this bounce back outing will have been worth dealing for Jaime Garcia from the Twins. Garcia twirled a gem against his former club, whiffing nine batters in 5.2 innings. He pitched into and out of trouble in the fifth, yielding only a run before inducing a double play and provided the staff with some much-needed length.
FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND RALLY
During the Yanks half of the sixth, the offense was able to manufacture a second run against Santana. With one down, Chase Headley and Starlin Castro connected with consecutive singles and moved up a base on a Santana wild pitch.
Following an intentional walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, Todd Frazier lifted a sacrifice fly RBI to left.
QUICK HOOK SKIP
Once again manager Joe Girardi was unafraid of making quick pitching changes. In addition to bringing in David Robertson for the sixth and seventh, Girardi removed the erratic Dellin Betances in the eighth and used Aroldis Chapman to work out of a one-out bases loaded jam.
Chapman also worked a flawless ninth for save No. 19 on the campaign, tossing heat with free-flowing ease.
Following a lengthy rain delay, the Yankees stormed back to a 5-2 victory over the Twins.
Baseball is a game of strategy. Knowing they had to pull out all of the stops, the Twins decided to bunt on CC Sabathia in the early going. Their bunt brigade paid dividends in the first inning. Brian Dozier started the Minnesota offense with a single to center. Joe Mauer and Jorge Polanco placed down successive bunts toward third to load the bases.
While the strategy paid off with a run on a double play ball by Eduardo Escobar, the bunts, double play and a groundout to Sabathia by Byron Buxton, made for an economical inning.
The Twins would play the long ball though in the second, as Max Kepler rocked a solo shot to right, giving Minnesota 2-1 edge in the third inning.
Still, it was a solid outing for Sabathia, who provided the pinstripes six frames with six K’s.
Brett Gardner, who collected three hits the prior contest, was especially clutch in bringing his squad back.
Facing Jose Berrios in the second with two aboard and two down, Gardner squared the game with a RBI-double to left-center.
In the fourth, a Gardner RBI-single to right knotted the game again at two.
The ensuing batter Judge would give the Yankees their first lead with a sac fly to right off reliever Alan Busenitz.
New York would tack on runs via an error by Mauer at first and a RBI-single by Castro in the fifth and sixth innings respectively.
Perhaps the Twins knew they’d have to scratch out some runs before reaching the Yankee bullpen. They weren’t wrong.
Chad Green, Robertson and Chapman combined for three scoreless innings, yielding two hits and recording four K’s.
Neither starter lasted long in a record-setting 11-3 blowout by the Bronx Bombers.
Let’s get the bad part out of the way first shall we? Luis Severino labored with 71 pitches through three innings. During the third, the Twins worked Severino, especially Joe Mauer, who got the Twins on the board with a RBI-single, following a 13-pitch at bat. Polanco followed with a two-run single to right but that would be the extent of the Minnesota scoring on the afternoon.
JUDGE KEEPS IT 100
Facing former Yankees starter Bartolo Colon in the home half of the third, Judge added to his historic rookie campaign. After Greg Bird doubled to right, Judge swatted a “Jeterian jolt” to right for home run No. 45. He joins Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Alex Rodriguez, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris as Yankees who have hit 45 or more in a season. The home run also gave Judge 100-RBI on the season, joining Al Rosen and Ted Williams as the only rookies to achieve a season of 100-RBI, 100 walks and 100 runs scored.
Elite company for the rookie. Yankees who have hit 45 HR in a season:
Ensuing batter Gary Sanchez would follow with a solo homer into Monument Park.
DIDI SETS THE SHORTSTOP STANDARD
In the fourth, Didi Gregorius capped off a huge offensive inning in record fashion.
With one down, Jacoby Ellsbury kept his scorching bat ablaze with a triple to left. Following a walk to Todd Frazier, Bird roped his second double to right, scoring Ellsbury. Gardner, riding an 11-game hitting-streak, collected his second hit of the contest with a RBI-single to center. Then with two outs, Sanchez knocked a RBI-single to right.
As mentioned above, the capper came as Gregorius launched a Willie Stargell crank shot to right for a three-run homer. The home run marked No. 25 on the season and set a new all-time single-season Yankees record of home runs by a shortstop.
PEN PALS PATCH
Piecing the rest of the game together, Chasen Shreve, Ben Heller and Domingo German combined for six scoreless frames of one-hit ball, fanning seven, including four K’s by German.
At 85-67, the Yankees head to Toronto for their final road trip of the season a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays starting Friday night.
Pitching probables include Masahiro Tanaka vs. Marco Estrada, Sonny Gray vs. Joe Biagini, Jordan Montgomery vs. Marcus Stroman.