The Twins Playoff Struggles Continue
The Minnesota Twins, the surprise champions of the American League Central division, showed there is a lot of work yet to do if a trip to the League Championship series is in their near future. The Twins relief pitching and miscues on defense proved too much to overcome in Game One of the ALDS. The New York Yankees continued their mastery of the Twins and kept them in a familiar place … the wrong end of a 10 to 4 final score.
TWINS BULLPEN ROCKED
The Minnesota Twins relieving corps, which had been fairly reliable down the stretch had a night they must quickly forget. Though down 5-3 after five innings the Twins do have an offense that will keep them in most games. But tonight, a six-run deficit put too much pressure on each at-bat as the game wore on. Jose Berrios pitched a decent four innings, but even with the last inning being a quick one-two-three, Twins’ skipper Rocco Baldelli had seen enough.
The Minnesota pen then broke a cardinal rule in baseball – letting the opposition score right after the offense tied the game. Zack Littell, who not only failed to record an out, also added a hit-batter and a wild-pitch to his line in the box score. Cody Stashak and Kyle Gibson each gave up crooked numbers to the Yankees. Brusdar Graterol was the only silver lining in the dark, dark cloud that was the Twins relief effort tonight.
DEFENSIVE PLAYS COSTLY
The bullpen was not alone when it came to shoulder the blame for this defeat. A shallow fly-ball to right field, which probably would have been caught by a healthy Luis Arraez in the bottom the third, instead fell hopelessly to the ground; an error at first by CJ Cron on what should have been a double-play, allowed the tying run to score in the third inning. A smash down the line at third by Gleyber Torres ricocheted off of Miguel Sano’s glove and ended up in left field, driving in two runs. If the Twins have any hope of winning a game, much less the series, they cannot replicate tonight’s defensive effort.
Minnesota needs to forget about tonight and play baseball the way they did during the regular season – loosely. The Twins did not lose three games in a row until mid-July and had only one losing streak of four games in early-August. Besides the home runs, the two-out RBI-single by Jorge Polanco was a bright spot. At-bats such as those could give the Twins’ hitters much-needed confidence as the series moves on.
This series is not over. The Twins won’t advance if their pitchers deliver an encore performance of tonight’s game. If they do Minnesota will remain where they’ve been for almost 20 years … on the wrong side of Yankee history.