The Yankees continued their postseason dominance of Minnesota, clinching their series with a win in Minneapolis and advancing to the American League Championship Series.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Yankees established themselves as one of the best teams in baseball during the regular season using a specific formula: a potent offense, a starting rotation that could deliver solid but not particularly long outings, and stout relief. To cruise past the Minnesota Twins in their American League division series, the Yankees stuck with that pattern.
Luis Severino, making just his fourth major league start of 2019, tossed four scoreless innings in Game 3 on Monday, then Yankees Manager Aaron Boone relied on the bullpen against the Twins’ power-hitting lineup. And the Yankees’ lineup provided just enough offense in a 5-1 victory that secured the team’s second trip to the American League Championship Series in three years.
The Yankees will face the winner of the other best-of-five A.L. division series, in which the Houston Astros lead the Tampa Bay Rays by two games to one.
The Twins have now been eliminated by the Yankeesin six of their past seven playoff appearances. Dating to 2004, the Yankees have defeated the Twins in 13 straight games in the playoffs — the longest head-to-head postseason winning streak in major league history.
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Now, the Yankees have time to rest, plan and reconfigure their roster for the Championship Series, which is scheduled to start on Saturday. In the Yankees’ last visit to the championship series, in 2017, they lost in seven games against the Astros.
In a series that was expected to produce seesawing action between the two best home run-hitting teams of all time, the outcome was decidedly lopsided.
Severino missed much of regular the season with several injuries, making just three starts before the postseason. He wasn’t particularly sharp on Monday, but he summoned enough to wriggle out of jams. When the bases were loaded with no outs in the second inning, he got Miguel Sano to pop out on a 98-mile-per-hour fastball, and then struck out Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave on diving sliders.
Severino completed four innings on 83 pitches and Boone decided not to push him farther. The relief corps injected some drama into the contest, but escaped with help from the Yankees defense.
Tommy Kahnle, shakier than usual of late, got two outs but gave up a single to lead off the fifth inning. (It would have been a double if right fielder Aaron Judge had not played it well off the wall.) Adam Ottavino, another normally solid reliever who has sputtered recently, walked his only batter, Nelson Cruz.
But Chad Green, who relieved Ottavino, got Eddie Rosario to drill a ground ball into the Yankees’ shifted defense. Second baseman Gleyber Torres slid to stop the ball in shallow right field and threw to first base, where D.J. LeMahieu scooped up the throw in time for the third out.
With Green on the mound and a runner on base in the sixth inning, Judge robbed Gonzalez of an extra-base hit with a running catch.
At the plate, the Yankees again took advantage of the Twins’ pitching staff. Torres smashed a second-inning solo home run off Jake Odorizzi, the Twins’ starter. The homer snuck over the left field wall, upheld after a replay review. The only Yankees younger than Torres, 22, to hit a home run in the postseason were players such as Derek Jeter and Mickey Mantle.
The Yankees added to their lead in the third inning when Brett Gardner, their 36-year-old outfielder who has become an unlikely No. 3 hitter, slapped an R.B.I. single past a diving Sano, who had moved a few steps in the other direction only moments before. The Yankees again scored on a well-placed hit in the seventh, when Didi Gregorius’s run-scoring single bounced down the first base line.
Zack Britton gave up a solo home run to Rosario in the eighth inning and left the game soon thereafter with a trainer. He had walked a bit gingerly the previous inning after racing to successfully cover first base. He was relieved by Aroldis Chapman, who hadn’t logged a multi-inning appearance during the regular season but notched a five-out save to secure Monday’s victory.
9th Inning: Yankees Advance to A.L.C.S.
It ended fairly quickly for Minnesota.
Sergio Romo got off to a good start in his second inning of work by retiring Edwin Encarnacion on a grounder to third, but then he began to unravel. Cameron Maybin hit a 348-foot homer to left, and Gleyber Torres doubled before stealing third with no throw. Gary Sanchez walked and Manager Rocco Baldelli had seen enough, pulling his veteran reliever for Trevor May, who promptly allowed a run-scoring single to Didi Gregorius. May then struck out both Gio Urshela and D.J. LeMahieu to end the half-inning.
Three more outs were not nearly enough for the Twins to erase a four-run deficit with Aroldis Chapman on the mound. The Yankees’ closer allowed a two-strike leadoff single to Marwin Gonzalez and walked C.J. Cron, but that was all Minnesota could muster. Chapman struck out Max Kepler on four pitches — getting three consecutive sliders past Minnesota’s leadoff batter — got some serious help on a diving catch by Gregorius on a liner by Jorge Polanco and finishing things off by freezing Nelson Cruz with a 99.4 mile-per-hour fastball for a called strike three, and the ballgame, and the series.
8th Inning: The Twins Get on the Board
There’s (a little) life in the Twins!
Sergio Romo got the crowd in Minnesota fired up with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, getting all three Yankees hitters to hit balls in the air that found their way into gloves. Then Eddie Rosario brought it to a frenzy with a 412-foot leadoff home run to center field to start the bottom half of the inning.
Zack Britton settled down quickly, retiring Mitch Garver on a grounder to short, but then had to leave with an ankle injury, setting up Aroldis Chapman to attempt a five-out save. Chapman had not been asked to throw more than an inning since June 25 of last season.
The first two of the five outs came easily enough. Chapman got Luis Arraez to line out to right and escaped the inning when Miguel Sano struck out on a 99.8 mile-per-hour fastball.
The Twins have one more inning to keep their season alive.
7th Inning: Yankees Tack on an Insurance Run
The Yankees have a 3-0 lead, that thanks to the team’s bullpen, feels even bigger.
Minnesota left its closer, Taylor Rogers, out for a second inning and he immediately gave up a leadoff double to Gleyber Torres. Rogers battled with Gary Sanchez in a 10-pitch at-bat that ended in Sanchez striking out swinging on a 94 mile-per-hour fastball. But the next batter, Didi Gregorius, attacked Rogers’s first pitch, sending it into right field and bringing Torres home for a 3-0 lead. Rogers recorded to induce an inning-ending 5-4-3 double-play from Gio Urshela, but he’d put his team in a deeper hole.
Chad Green allowed a single to C.J. Cron in the bottom half of the inning and was quickly replaced by Zack Britton. Britton retired Max Kepler on a fly out to right and then the former closer got the second out by way of a close play at first where D.J. LeMahieu, stretching for a throw from Torres, just barely got his foot on the bag before Jorge Polanco arrived. Britton threw a wild pitch that sent Cron to third base but then induced a come-backer from Nelson Cruz that ended the inning.
6th Inning: Aaron Judge’s Height Comes In Handy
There was no scoring in the sixth but the Twins came close on a few deep fly balls.
With their season on the line and time running out, the Twins started the top of the sixth inning with their closer, Taylor Rogers, on the mound. The left-hander did his job, striking out Brett Gardner on a slider in the dirt, retiring Edwin Encarnacion on a pop-up to first and ended things by getting Giancarlo Stanton to ground out to third. Rogers threw as many as two and a third innings in an appearance this season, and five times was allowed to throw 30 or more pitches, so he could theoretically stay in the game longer than a typical closer.
Chad Green, who was one of the Yankees’ top relievers late in the season, started things off in the bottom half of the inning by striking out Mitch Garver but then allowed a double to the wall by Luis Arraez. Green nearly got himself in big trouble when Miguel Sano hit a deep ball to right, but Aaron Judge used every bit of his 6-foot-7 frame to catch a ball that appeared headed for the wall, securing a second out. Green then got out of the inning on a warning-track shot to right by Marwin Gonzalez that landed in Judge’s glove.
5th Inning: Up to the Yankees’ Bullpen, Now
It took a parade of relievers but the Yankees are through five innings with a 2-0 lead.
Jake Odorizzi was dominant in the top half of the fifth. He retired Gio Urshela on a fly ball to center, got D.J. LeMahieu to ground out softly to the catcher and finished things off by inducing a fly out from Aaron Judge. The entire half-inning took Odorizzi just nine pitches, but his day appears to be done based on the hugs and high-fives he was receiving in the dugout.
The bottom half of the inning went much slower. The Yankees replaced Luis Severino with Tommy Kahnle and Kahnle allowed a leadoff single to Jake Cave. Max Kepler hit a screaming out to center and Jorge Polanco softly flied out to shallow left, and that was it for Kahnle who was replaced by Adam Ottavino in anticipation of Nelson Cruz coming to the plate.
With Severino’s day officially done, it is safe to say this was the best postseason start of his career, in quality if not quantity. He held the Twins scoreless through four innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four. He threw 83 pitches, 52 of which were strikes.
If Odorizzi is done as well, he was good but not quite good enough. He allowed two earned runs over five innings, allowing five hits and striking out five.
4th Inning: Yankees on Cruise Control
After some drama in the second and third innings, the fourth was awfully uneventful. But the Yankees might be dipping into their bullpen going forward.
Giancarlo Stanton got his first hit of the series by way of Max Kepler having positioned himself far too deep in center only to have Stanton’s soft fly ball land in front of him. Stanton’s time on base did not last long, as Gleyber Torres grounded into a 6-4-3 double-play that zipped around the infield at lightning pace. Gary Sanchez singled on a liner to left but Jake Odorizzi got the Twins out of the inning by striking out Didi Gregorius with a high fastball that made the Yankees’ shortstop look foolish.
Luis Severino retired Luis Arraez on a grounder to short, struck out Miguel Sano on seven pitches and got some help from D.J. LeMahieu, who snagged a liner down the line by Marwin Gonzalez to end the inning.
Severino is up to 83 pitches, which is his highest total of this season, and with activity in the Yankees’ bullpen, his day is likely done.
3rd Inning: Yankees Tack on Another
Luis Severino has the Yankees leading by 2-0 after three innings, and the only question is how long he can stay in this game.
Leading off the top half of the inning, Gio Urshela lined a ball to left that a diving Jake Cave could not quite corral. The ball skipped all the way to the wall, but Urshela pulled up at second for a double. He advanced to third on a groundout by D.J. LeMahieu, and after Aaron Judge struck out looking on a low four-seamer, Urshela raced home on a chopper by Brett Gardner that shot past Miguel Sano at third base. Jake Odorizzi got out of the inning when Edwin Encarnacion flied out to center but not before he had put his team in a 2-0 hole.
Luis Severino again flirted with disaster. With two outs and two runners on base, both via single, Severino got out of the jam by striking out Mitch Garver with a 98 mile-per-hour fastball.
Severino is up to 66 pitches. The most he threw during the regular season was 80.
2nd Inning: Yankees Take the Lead
The Yankees have a 1-0 lead, and absolutely no one should be shocked that it came via home run. But the story of the inning was Luis Severino wriggling out of a self-induced jam in the bottom half of the inning.
The Yankees did absolutely nothing else against Jake Odorizzi. Leading off, Giancarlo Stanton took a pair of mighty cuts before meekly waving at strike three. After Torres’s home run, Gary Sanchez popped out to shortstop and Odorizzi got out of the inning when Didi Gregorius grounded out.
Staked to a lead in the bottom half of the inning, Severino immediately allowed a screaming double off the right field wall by Eddie Rosario. He walked Mitch Garver on five pitches and then gave up a single to Luis Arraez that loaded the bases with no outs. That brought up the powerful Miguel Sano, who, on the eighth pitch of a tense at-bat, skied an infield fly that was reeled in by D.J. LeMahieu for the first out of the inning. Severino struck out Marwin Gonzalez with a vicious slider and then ended the inning by freezing Jake Cave on a slider.
The Houdini act was impressive, but the Yankees are likely concerned that their fragile ace is already up to 45 pitches.
1st Inning: All Quiet in Minnesota
It was an uneventful first inning as each team had one batter reach base, but there was never a real scoring threat.
Jake Odorizzi got off to a strong start in the top half of the inning by striking out D.J. LeMahieu on four pitches, blowing three consecutive four-seamers past the All-Star infielder. Aaron Judge appeared to fly out but was awarded first base via catcher’s interference, and he proceeded to get to second on a wild pitch. But Odorizzi recovered nicely, striking out Brett Gardner and getting Edwin Encarnacion to fly out to left to end the threat.
Luis Severino was a bit shakier at first in the bottom half of the inning, but still put up a zero. He walked the leadoff batter, Max Kepler, on five pitches, and needed seven pitches to retire Jorge Polanco on a soft fly ball to left. But then he induced a double-play ball from Nelson Cruz that ended the inning.
Source : nytimes