In their quest for a 28th World Series title, the New York Yankees have started in impeccable fashion.
New York completed an American League Division Series sweep of the Minnesota Twins with a 5-1 victory at Target Field on Monday night. Even in the closest contest of the three-game set, things still looked lopsided in the Yankees’ favor.
The Bombers held up their end of the potential slugfest, but their pitching stifled the power of a team that crushed a record 307 homers in the regular season. Minnesota was limited to four solo shots in the series and left nine runners on base in Game 3.
New York pitching compiled 33 strikeouts in the three games, limiting the Twins to just seven runs. Minnesota’s 16th consecutive postseason loss represents the longest current streak in baseball.
Luis Severino got the start after rotator cuff inflammation and a Grade 2 lat strain limited him to just three appearances in the regular season. The 25-year-old right-hander completed four scoreless innings on 83 pitches, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four.
Tommy Kahnle and Chad Green combined for two scoreless innings in relief for New York. Zack Britton walked off with a reported ankle injury after allowing a lead-off homer to Eddie Rosario in the eighth inning.
Aroldis Chapman recorded a five-out save to secure the win for New York. It was the first time Chapman went 1.2 innings to log a save since Game 5 of the 2017 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.
Gleyber Torres’s 376-foot solo shot — complete with an umpire review to make sure the Yankees weren’t the beneficiaries of another Jeffrey Maier-type situation — opened the scoring in the second inning Monday. He was the youngest Yankee to go deep in the postseason since that Derek Jeter homer 23 years ago.
It was the first homer and fourth RBI of the postseason for the 22-year-old superstar, who went deep 38 times this summer. He also doubled twice, scored on Didi Gregorius’ seventh- and ninth-inning base hits and saved a run on an excellent sliding stop in the fifth.
Cameron Maybin added a late solo shot off Sergio Romo in the ninth inning.
WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE
Brett Gardner: The Yankees’ unlikely No. 3 batter beat the shift to drive home Gio Urshela in the third. Cave unsuccessfully dove for an Urshela sinking liner in left, misplaying a base hit into a double. Gardner slapped a two-out, two-strike chopper to the right of the third baseman Miguel Sano -- a spot that was vacated seconds before the pitch -- for his third RBI of the postseason.
Aaron Judge: The 6-foot-6 right fielder’s defense helped to keep the Twins off the board in a few key moments. No spot was bigger than his leaping catch on Sano’s liner in the sixth which would have easily scored Luis Arraez from second. He also held Jake Cave to a single on a bullet off the wall with an excellent throw into the infield.
Jake Odorizzi: It’s not easy to hold this Yankees team to just three runs. New York made quick work of the Twins’ starters in the series’ first two games, but Odorizzi worked five solid innings Saturday, yielding a pair of runs on five hits with five punchouts. Minnesota skipper Rocco Baldelli saved Odorizzi for Game 3 at Target Field. That side of the game all went according to plan, but Minnesota’s offense didn’t do their part.
Severino looked like he was working with all the rust of a pitcher who was making his fourth start of the year in October. He didn’t display great command but his night was defined by his ability to keep the train on the tracks and get big outs in big moments.
The Twins squandered an early opportunity in the second inning. Minnesota had the bases loaded with nobody out, but Severino got Sano to pop out on the infield and whiffed Marwin Gonzalez and Cave to get out of the inning without yielding a run. Severino again stranded a pair of runners with a strikeout of Mitch Garver in the third.
In addition to his two RBI singles, Gregorius made a diving catch on a Jorge Polanco liner with two runners on in the ninth inning.
Didi wanted that champagne!pic.twitter.com/fzMZPEBL5z— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) October 8, 2019
WHAT THEY’LL BE TALKING ABOUT
Forecasting the Yankees next opponent, the question arises about whether they’ll be able to dominate the Houston Astros or Tampa Bay Rays the way they did the Twins. The Yankees were 12-7 against the AL East rival Rays in the regular season, and 3-4 in the series against Houston. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole present a challenge on a very different level from what the Yankees saw in the past three games.
The Yankees await the winner of the series between the Astros and Rays. Tampa Bay fought off a sweep with a 10-3 win against Zack Greinke at Tropicana Field on Monday afternoon.
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