Yankees win a wild AL Wild Card game, advance to the ALDS
The Yankees overcame a deficit to win the AL Wild Card thanks to clutch hitting and a dominant bullpen
If you were to have said at the start of the season that that New York Yankees would be legitimate World Series contenders, you may have been laughed at. 2017 was meant to be a rebuilding year for the “Bronx Bombers“, one that promised hope but nothing else.
Well, here we are now.
The Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-4 in the AL Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night. They will now face the Cleveland Indians in game one of the American League Division Series on Thursday in Cleveland.
In what was a wild ride to begin with, a baseball game being played on a cool October night had Yankee Stadium rocking from beginning to end.
Things looked bleak at the start of the game, however. Yankees starter Luis Severino gave up a leadoff home run to Brian Dozier. From there, it all went downhill for him. Eddie Rosario then hit a two-run home run and that was it for Severino. One of the most consistent Yankees this season with a 14-6 record and a 2.98 ERA, Severino didn’t make it out of the first. That didn’t drag The Bombers down, however. It was a combination of the Yankees’ offense and bullpen that helped the team outlast the Twins.
In the bottom of the first, Didi Gregorius hit a three-run home run off of Twins starter Ervin Santana to tie the game. As the ball soared through the air, the once depleted crowd gained new life. You could almost feel The Stadium shaking after that.
Didi has turned into a fantastic player for the Yankees. He has really grown into a true leader since being traded by the Diamondbacks. When asked during an in-game interview with ESPN about Didi’s importance to the team, manager Joe Girardi stated:
“It’s so much. Eighty-seven RBIs, he missed a month of the season. Defensively, what he does and how he’s the captain of the infield. You know, we’ve kind of put him in the four slot when we had some people that got hurt and he’s filled in great there and we just left it there.”
Leaving him on the field to do his own thing resulted in a positive outcome. In total, the first inning lasted about an hour. From there, you knew this would be a long, interesting night.
Over the next several innings, the teams were trading in runs. First, Brett Gardner hit a solo shot in the bottom of the second after almost getting hit by a pitch. The Twins then tied it in the top of the third thanks to a Byron Buxton sacrifice play. Greg Bird struck back in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single. From there, it was all Yankees.
Aaron Judge, a clear lock for Rookie of the Year, hit a laser shot in the bottom of the fourth. He became the first Yankee to hit a home run in his postseason debut since Shane Spencer did so in 1998. Whether this game helped his cause in being named MVP or not is unknown.
Aaron Judge: 3rd rookie in Yankees history to HR in postseason debut
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 4, 2017
The last run came in when relief pitcher Alan Busenitz walked in a run with the bases loaded.
Speaking of bullpens, the effort by the members of the Yankees’ pen was nothing short of phenomenal. Chad Green replaced Severino, striking out four in two innings. It was David Robertson who impressed the most. He went a career-high 3 1/3 innings and struck out five. A man taken from a closer’s role in Chicago, Robertson has proven that he has what it takes to become “The Guy” for the Yankees. His efforts helped the Yankees in a big way. If there was an MVP award in the Wild Card Game, Robertson would be the unanimous choice.
After Robertson’s dominant effort, the end result seemed inevitable. A lead with a dangerous Yankee bullpen? It was all elementary, my dear Watson. Tommy Kahnle, like his walkup song, was glorious, working through 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Aroldis Chapman closed the door with flaming hot fastballs to secure the win for the Yankees.
For the Twins, they have lost 13 straight postseason games. It’s incredible how they consistently lose to the Yankees in these situations. The future of the team does look bright, however, and things may change.
Honestly, what did you expect from a team that should never be taken lightly? Their dramatic 14-11 win against the Orioles in April, which could be considered the “taking off” point of the season, proved that. A team meant to rebuild has exceeded expectations, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Yankees now face an uphill battle against a team that almost won the World Series last year in the Indians. This team has proved it’s resilience, and anything can happen in the playoffs. Whether that holds true come Thursday remains to be seen. For now, it’s a moment of celebration for the Yankees and their fans.
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