One of these years, the Twins will break their postseason curse against the Yankees. 2019 was not that year, however.
The Yanks finished off an ALDS sweep of the Twins with a 5-1 win on Monday to move on to the ALCS. Amazingly, it’s the 13th straight postseason victory for the Yankees over the Twins. They’ve now been responsible for eliminating the Twins from the playoffs six of the last seven times they’ve made the postseason. The Twins have lost 16 straight playoff games, extending their own record.
Gleyber Torres had the big night for the Yankees offensively, going 3-for-4 with a solo home run, two doubles and three runs scored. Torres went 5-for-12 with a long ball, four RBI, five runs scored and a pair of stolen bases in the three games against the Twins.
The Twins had opportunities Monday but couldn’t cash in, most notably squandering a bases-loaded, no-out chance in the second inning. Luis Severino was able to wiggle his way out of that jam and another one in the third on his way to four shutout frames.
Getting swept and outscored 23-7 in the three contests is a tough pill to swallow for a Twins team that won 101 games and captured their first AL Central title since 2010. The good news is most of the key pieces on the roster will be back in 2020 and the division figures to be bad again.
As for the Yankees, they have made their second ALCS in the last three seasons and await the winner of the Rays-Astros series. They’re set up to use James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Severino in the first three games of the ALCS just as they did in the ALDS.
Natitude Lives to Fight Another Day
Max Scherzer didn’t quite look like himself down the stretch of the regular season and in the NL Wild Card Game. On Monday, Mad Max was back.
Scherzer and the Nationals staved off elimination with a 6-1 win over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLDS on Monday. The three-time Cy Young winner was on point, limiting the Dodgers to just one run on four hits and three walks (one intentional) while notching seven punchouts.
Justin Turner popped a solo home run off of Scherzer with two outs in the first inning, but that was the only run the Dodgers were able to come up with against the right-hander and the Nats’ bullpen. Pitching on two days’ rest following a one-inning relief appearance in Game 2, Scherzer threw 109 pitches in the outing over his seven innings of work.
OG National Ryan Zimmerman came up with the big hit for Washington, extending a 2-1 lead to 5-1 in the fifth inning with a three-run blast off of reliever Pedro Baez. The 35-year-old was making just his second start in the Nats’ fourth postseason contest.
St. Louis Shifts Series Back to Atlanta
The Cardinals lost a heartbreaker in Game 3 of the NLDS on Sunday. On Monday they bounced back with the help of their longest-tenured player.
Yadier Molina tied the game with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning and won it with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th in the Cards’ 5-4 victory over the Braves. With the win, St. Louis has shifted the series back to Atlanta for a winner-take-all Game 5.
Marcell Ozuna was the hero early on for the Cardinals, as he slugged solo home runs in the first inning and fourth inning off of Dallas Keuchel, who was not sharp while pitching on short rest. Ozuna’s first home run was the second of back-to-back dingers in the first, with Paul Goldschmidt cranking the first one. Goldschmidt also had a big day, going 3-for-4 with a homer and a walk.
Ozzie Albies plated three runs for the Braves, putting his team ahead and knocking out Dakota Hudson in the fifth inning with a two-out, two-run homer that was preceded by a Matt Carpenter error. Ronald Acuna had four more hits and has now picked up eight base knocks and drawn three walks in the series. However, the only run he’s scored occurred on his own long ball. Freddie Freeman (2-for-16) and Josh Donaldson (2-for-15) have been unable to drive the leadoff hitter in.
Freeman has not looked like himself at the plate after dealing with late-season elbow issues. However, he insisted after Monday’s game that he’s healthy and is just in a funk at the dish.
Gopher Ball Gets Greinke
Greinke served up a trio of home runs and allowed six runs overall across just 3 2/3 innings Monday in a 10-3 ALDS Game 3 loss to the Rays. It was the first time since Opening Day that Greinke gave up more than two homers in a start. He permitted just six dingers in 10 regular season outings for the Astros.
The Rays clubbed four long balls overall on the day, with Kevin Kiermaier, Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe taking Greinke deep and Willy Adames leaving the yard against Wade Miley. Kiermaier’s bomb in the second inning gave Tampa Bay their first lead and they never looked back.
Adames had the biggest day in a much-needed offensive explosion for the Rays. In addition to his solo blast off of Miley, he also added a double, two singles and a walk, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances and scoring a pair of runs out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup. Starter Charlie Morton lasted just five innings for Tampa but yielded only one run and whiffed nine batters.
In winning Monday, the Rays live to fight another day. Unfortunately for them, they will have to face Verlander on Tuesday in another elimination game. Verlander will be pitching on short rest, though, after throwing 100 pitches over seven shutout frames in Game 1. The Rays will counter with opener Diego Castillo and then a collection of relievers.
Quick Hits: Victor Robles (hamstring) remained out of the Nationals' lineup for Game 4 of the NLDS against the Dodgers on Monday … Yandy Diaz exited Game 3 of the ALDS against the Astros on Monday due to left foot soreness … Zack Britton was lifted from Monday's game against the Twins with an apparent ankle injury … Scott Miller of Bleacher Report has been told by multiple sources that the Angels are expected to announce the hiring of Joe Maddon as manager "a day or two after his interview," which took place Monday … Andy Martino of SNY.tv has reported that the Mets "have been doing background work" on Carlos Beltran as they search for a new manager … Jon Heyman of MLB Network has reported that the Padres "have done some due diligence" on Ron Washington in their managerial search … Nippon Professional Baseball's Yokohama DeNA BayStars announced Monday that they plan to post Yoshitomo Tsutsugo this winter …