For the second time in three years, the New York Yankees are going to the ALCS. The Bronx Bombers swept the Bombas, disposing of the Minnesota Twins 3-0 in their ALDS match. In doing so, the Yankees pitching held Twins hitting to a 3-for-28 ledger with RISP. New York will be fresh, healthier, and ready for their yet to be determined opponent. This team is locked in and ready to continue their mission to title 28. Next round up!
The length of the Yankees lineup was on full display against the Twins. A battle of the Bombers and Bombas yielded its share of longballs but the pinstripes also packed some patience and timely hitting with that power prowess. New York also flashed better leather in a contest that was tight early but broke open late. Game 1 went to the boys from the Bronx by a final count of 10-4 good buddy!
GET IT TIGHT, GET IT RIGHT
Tight a$$ or not, a postseason debut in the Bronx can make one tense under the spotlight. James Paxton was a mixed bag. Actually all parts of his season were encapsulated in this outing. There was the first inning bugaboo that saw him strike out the side but also surrender a home run to Jorge Polanco. Paxton also picked up his guys on defense and they returned the favor in kind. After DJ LeMahieu dropped a pop up from C.J. Cron at first base, Paxton was able to coax Luis Arraez into an around the horn, inning-ending double play in the second stanza.
While Paxton would issue a home run to right to Nelson Cruz in the third, it could’ve been far worse if not for a sprawling snag by Aaron Judge on a ball hit to right by the previous hitter Polanco.
Judge also made a hell of a catch to rob Eddie Rosario of a base hit in the seventh.
Of course, there was the second-half brilliance of eight strikeouts, but the Yankees could’ve used more than 4.2 frames.
ROLL OUT OF BED, COLLECT HITS, RINSE AND REPEAT
Edwin Encarnacion has that “it factor.” It didn’t take him long to make an impact and put the pinstripes in business against Jose Berrios in the third inning.
New York also took advantage of some sketchy Twins defense in the process. LeMahieu reached on a pop up single that eluded Arraez in shallow right. Judge followed with a sharp single to left. Brett Gardner lined out to right and advanced LeMahieu to third.
Encarnacion parroted his double from the first inning and roped an RBI-double to left, and the Yankees were on the board.
The ensuing batter, Giancarlo Stanton, coaxed a sage walk after getting sawed off by a 3-0 two-seam fastball riding in during the first inning.
Judge would come around to tie the score after Gleyber Torres grounded to third, but the second baseman Arraez couldn’t complete the double play. Torres advanced to second on the missed catch by Cron at first.
Aaron Boone employed his bullpen arms early and often. After Arraez and Polanco picked on Paxton to tie the game at three in the fifth, Boone went to the pen. While Adam Ottavino lasted only one batter, issuing a walk to Cruz in the fifth, Tommy Kahnle retired the side on a one-pitch flyout to Rosario. Although Kahnle would surrender a home run to Miguel Sano in the sixth, it would be the final Twins salvo. Chad Green, Zack Britton, J.A. Happ, and Aroldis Chapman recorded the final 11 outs.
CRAZY YOUNGSTER SZN
New York claimed the lead for keeps in the fifth against the bullpen. Facing Zack Littell, Judge coaxed a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Gardner reached on a hit by pitch and that was the end of Littell’s evening. With one down, Stanton drew a free pass against Tyler Duffey.
With the sacks packed, Torres delivered with a sharp two-run double that deflected off Sano’s glove at third. Providing the pinstripes with a 5-3 advantage, Torres became the youngest Yankees player with a multi-RBI postseason game since Tony Kubek in the 1957 Fall Classic against the Milwaukee Braves.
Later, Gardner launched a solo bomb of his own above the Lays sign in Section 206 — the same spot he connected to in the second stanza of the 2017 AL Wild Card contest.
LeMahieu was back at it in the seventh, facing Kyle Gibson with the bases loaded. LeMahieu cleared the bases with a three-run double to left to make it 10-4. LeMahieu became the first Yankee first baseman since Tino Martinez in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series to record four-RBI in a postseason game. It’s pretty remarkable considering some of the names that followed Martinez in the Bronx.
It didn’t take long for the Yankees to jump on Randy Dobnak. During the first inning, LeMahieu set the table with a double to right. Judge followed with a walk and Gardner moved LeMahieu to third with a flyout to center. Encarnacion cashed in with an RBI-single to left-center for the 1-0 edge.
The former Uber driver was able to navigate through the traffic by inducing a double play from Stanton. Yet, the Bronx Bombers would surge in the third.
Judge got the ball rolling with a single to right. Gardner coaxed a free pass. Encarnacion singled to left, and that was it for Dobnak.
With Duffey on, Stanton lifted a sac fly to center. Torres followed with a sharp RBI-single to left. Sanchez reached on a hit by pitch to load the bases.
Then it was up to Gregorius, who, like a basketball player with a layup, got himself going in the second stanza with a rolling cue shot single past third base. In the third, he lifted the frustration off his shoulders and put his teammates on his back. Gregorius walloped a grand slam to Section 206 and the Bronx Bombers lead grew to 7-0. Gregorius became the first shortstop in franchise history to hit a grand slam in a postseason contest.
An RBI-single by Gardner off Devin Smeltzer would cap off the offense.
Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t vintage “playoff Tanaka”, but the Yankees didn’t need him to be. Tanaka worked out of a first-inning threat with a double-play ball to Rosario. The only real blip on his outing was an RBI-single by Mitch Garver in the fourth inning, which came following a 32-minute delay thanks in part to the Yankees third inning onslaught. Tanaka rebounded and his ledger included five frames, seven K’s, three hits, one walk, and one run. While he likely would’ve kept cruising with a big lead, Boone was smart to conserve him at 80 pitches instead of running him out there, like Gerrit Cole for 118 pitches in Houston.
Kahnle and Ottavino would take it from there with an inning apiece, and even Tyler Lyons and Jonathan Loaisiga got into the act to finish it out.
The Yankees flashed the leather and snagged themselves a series sweep in Minneapolis. If there was such a thing as ALDS MVP, Torres was it, collecting another three hits, playing stellar defense, hitting .417 with a 1.379 OPS. Luis Severino turned up the heat and lowered the boom on Twins lineup.
HE’S ONLY 22 YEARS AND 298 DAYS OLD
Torres topped a solo swat to left off Jake Odorizzi in the second stanza, providing New York with a 1-0 edge. Torres became the fifth-youngest Yankee to homer in a postseason contest.
Minnesota fans and their friendly midwestern “Gardner sucks” chants, didn’t seem to phase the Yankee thumper.
After Urshela doubled and moved to third on a LeMahieu groundout, Gardner bounced an RBI-single past third and into left, increasing the lead to 2-0.
As mentioned, Severino pitched to his pitch count and much like the 2018 AL Wild Card game against Oakland, aired it all out in his four frames of scoreless ball. Severino escaped the first frame with a double-play ball to Cruz. With the bases loaded and zero outs in the second stanza, Severino coaxed a pop-out from Sano, and whiffed Gonzalez and Jake Cave with a pair of sliders to get out of trouble. With two on and two out in the third, the righty utilized the 98 mph fastball to retire Garver and the side. Severino worked a perfect fourth as LeMahieu made a nice grab on a Gonzalez liner. Severino fanned four, yielded four hits, two walks, and zero runs. One hopes he only continues to build up from here.
Helping bail out the bullpen, which saw Kahnle, Ottavino, and Green all enter during the fifth, was Torres with a nice diving stab in shallow right on a smash by Rosario. Torres was able to record the out on a nice pick by LeMahieu and ended the threat.
After a one-out Arraez double in the sixth, Judge leaped and snagged a hot liner to the track by Sano.
DIDI IS RELENTLESS
The Yankees’ double-play combo kept it up at the dish as well in the seventh against Taylor Rogers. Torres set the table with a double to left. With one out, Gregorius lined an RBI-single to right, increasing the advantage to 3-0.
HUGS AND HANDSHAKES
New York kept up its pitching, power, and defense late. Zack Britton beat out Polanco in a foot race to first in the seventh and luckily his ankle appeared to be OK after being lifted in the eighth, with the only blip being a Rosario homer to center.
In the ninth, Maybin hugged out a homer to left off Sergio Romo to get the run back. The ensuing batter, Torres, doubled and stole third. Following a Sanchez walk, the Twins summoned Trevor May, who fared no better, allowing an RBI-single to right to Gregorius.
Yankees pitchers were able to hold the Twins to a 1-for-12 ledger with RISP. Chapman was able to nail down the five-out save with help from a nice diving grab by Gregorius on a smash by Polanco for the second out. Chapman froze Cruz to end the game and the series.