For the first time since 2012, the Yankees are heading to the American League Division Series. They will take on the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. Game 1 of that series is scheduled for Thursday in Cleveland.
Things did not look good for the Yankees early in the game. Their starting pitcher Luis Severino did not even make it out of the first inning. Brian Dozier led off the game with a home run, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. A few batters later, Eddie Rosario took Severino deep for a two-run homer. Later in the inning, Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to pull the plug on Severino and turn to his bullpen.
Everything started to turn around for the Yankees after that disastrous start. Twins starter Ervin Santana walked Brett Gardner to start off the bottom of the first inning, and Aaron Judge followed with a single. After Gary Sanchez fouled out to the catcher, Didi Gregorius came to the plate and blasted a three-run home run to right field.
With the game tied, Yankees relief pitcher Chad Green got the Twins to go quietly in the second inning. Gardner came up with two outs and no one on base in the bottom half of the inning. He hit a ball to deep right field that landed in the second deck. That home run gave the Yankees their first lead of the game.
All of the momentum was with the Yankees after that. The Twins loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third inning. They tied the game after Byron Buxton hit into a fielder’s choice. However, they failed to score any more runs as Yankees reliever David Robertson came in and struck out Jason Castro to end the inning.
The Yankees responded quickly and took the lead again on an RBI-single by Greg Bird. The big blow came in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Aaron Judge had his first memorable postseason moment. With Gardner on first base , Judge hit the second pitch he saw from Twins reliever Jose Berrios over the left field fence. At this point, the Yankees led 7-4. They ended up adding another insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Twins offense could not get anything going for the rest of the game. Robertson pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in relief for the Yankees, and ended up getting the win. Tommy Kahnle came in after Robertson and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings. Girardi then put the ball in the hands of his closer Aroldis Chapman for the ninth inning. Chapman struck out the side, sealing the 8-4 victory for the Yankees.
Even though it did not end the way they wanted it to, the Twins still had a great season. They went from losing over 100 games in 2016 to being one of the two AL Wild Card teams in 2017. It is not often that you see that kind of turnaround.
The Yankees will now move on and play the Indians, a team that finished the regular season with the best record in the AL. The way the Indians have played lately, it will certainly be a difficult series for the Yankees to win.