All season, the New York Yankees won games with a powerful lineup and a devastating bullpen. That formula catapulted them to a 8-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins, winning the American League Wild Card. The Yankees will face the perennial American League favorite Cleveland Indians in the Division Series.
Yankees Produce Complete Game to Take AL Wild Card
All Is Lightning
Henry Chadwick—the first true writer of baseball—stated the truest nature of the game back in the mid-1800s.
In baseball, all is lightning…
Fans need only to watch Tuesday night’s game to understand the candor of that statement.
As first pitch neared, Yankee Stadium became electric. The Bronx crowd was wired, and this seemed to fuel starter Luis Severino. He was pumping gas from his right arm to start the game, touching 99 MPH on every pitch. Then, in an instant, the entire current of electricity surged through Brian Dozier‘s bat, scorching a 3-1 fastball to left center, putting the Twins ahead early. Whatever energy was being charged since New York claimed the home advantage for this game left with Dozier’s swing.
Three batters later, Eddie Rosario unloaded on a flat fastball down the middle of the plate. The ball thrashed toward the right field wall, leaving the field quicker than a thoroughbred out of the gate. New York is down 3-0, two batters later Severino is done and Yankee fans sat in horror shocked at how quick this game had turned on their team.
How would the Yankees respond? By creating electricity of their own.
Brett Gardner led off the inning with a walk, followed by Aaron Judge powering a single to center to put runners at the corners. After starter Ervin Santana forced Gary Sanchez to softly pop out to Jason Castro, Didi Gregorius came to the plate.
Santana grooved a fastball over the middle of the plate. Gregorius knew immediately it was gone. Every eye on the game knew immediately it was gone. Gregorius charged around the bases, and Yankee Stadium roared louder than ever before. In an instant—it’s a tie game.
Moments of pure intensity fuels baseball. It isn’t boring or dull or uneventful. It’s lightning, and all eyes should focus when it crashes.
New York Bullpen Dominates
With all the power screaming across the diamond, the story of this game was told by the New York bullpen. After Severino recorded only one out in his uncomfortable playoff debut, manager Joe Girardi used five pitchers to dominate the Twins offense, stifling any chance for them to make a comeback.
The Yankees turned to Chad Green—the long relief version of Clayton Kershaw—after removing Severino. Green would walk two and allow a run from a fielder’s choice in the third, but he also struck out the first five batters he faced. Then David Robertson smothered the Minnesota offense, allowing three meaningless hits across 3.1 innings, striking out five. They ended the game with money closer Aroldis Chapman, who apart from a whispering single was untouchable. The performance was dominant enough that they didn’t have to use Dellin Betances.
The bullpen stole any thunder from the early Minnesota runs. When New York’s powerful bats took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, everyone knew this game was for the bullpen to win, and they denied any inclinations of doubt.
What’s Next for the Minnesota Twins
It’s a disappointing end to an incredible season, but apart from the outcome, there is nothing to fear about the future of the Minnesota Twins.
The youngest team in baseball with the worst record from last season put across the most runs in the American League during the second-half and came out blazing tonight. They have proven stars in Dozier and Joe Mauer, rising stars Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios and a budding farm system to tack on.
The Twins do play in the same division as the Indians, so competing for division titles will be tough. With that said, everything should only grow greater for Paul Molitor‘s club. Expect them to compete for the playoffs for years to come.
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