Right-hander Luis Severino will take the mound as the New York Yankees attempt to complete a three-game sweep of their American League Division Series with the Minnesota Twins on Monday night in Minneapolis.
History, not to mention a well-rested bullpen, will be on New York's side entering Game 3 of the best-of-five series. The Yankees have won a major league record 12 consecutive playoff games over the Twins, including 10-4 and 8-2 victories at Yankee Stadium in Games 1 and 2. Minnesota also has dropped an MLB record 15 straight postseason games.
If those stats weren't eye-popping enough, since the Division Series went to the current 2-2-1 format, teams winning Games 1 and 2 have gone on to win the series 27 of 30 times (90 percent) including 18 sweeps.
"Throttle down," Yankees manager Aaron Boone replied when asked what his message would be to his team taking a 2-0 lead to Minnesota. "Make sure we go out and match their energy. Obviously, first home playoff game for them. I'm sure the crowd will be energized, and we need to go match it. And I know we will."
Severino (1-1, 1.50 ERA) has pitched just 12 innings in three starts this season due to right shoulder and lat injuries and is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the Twins. It will be just his second career start at Target Field where he was on the losing end of a 3-1 decision on Sept. 12, 2018, when he allowed one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings while striking out five.
Ironically, the winning pitcher that afternoon, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, will try to help Minnesota stave off elimination. Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51), who is 7-9 with a 4.71 ERA in 18 career appearances and 17 starts against the Yankees, pitched 7 1/3 no-hit innings that night and left after allowing one run on one hit and three walks while striking out five.
"We feel like (Severino) is throwing the ball incredibly well and know what he's capable of when he's on top of his game," Boone said. "With an off day, obviously we'll have all kinds of firepower ready to go (in the bullpen) Monday in Minnesota."
Odorizzi has pitched at least five innings and allowed three runs or fewer in all but one start since the All-Star break but that one clunker came against the Yankees on July 24 at Target Field when he was tagged for nine runs on 10 hits in just four innings.
Minnesota went 46-35 at Target Field en route to 101 wins this season but dropped two of its three games with New York there, including an epic 14-12, 10-inning contest July 23 that ended with an Aaron Hicks' diving, backhanded, game-saving catch on a Max Kepler liner into the gap in left-center with the bases loaded. Still, after a nightmarish start to the series at Yankee Stadium that saw them blown out twice, the Twins were looking forward to a chance to turn things around on their home field.
"It's going to be nice to go home, take the day off to kind of just recalibrate, and, hopefully, when we get in front of our fans, we can feel a little bit more comfortable," first baseman C.J. Cron told MLB.com. "We have nothing to do but win now. It's our only option. Hopefully we can do that."
"We're not looking back, we're looking forward," added outfielder Max Kepler. "We just have to play our baseball and believe in it."
--Field Level Media