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Byron Buxton played through rib pain

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Update, 5:47 PM ET: The Twins’ Dustin Morse reports that no fracture was found in Buxton’s ribs after undergoing multiple tests on Saturday. It appears that he was just playing with intense rib pain following the collision at the wall, and is now facing a much shorter recovery period as he looks forward to a fairly normal offseason.

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Twins’ outfielder Byron Buxton left it all on the field during the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, grinding out a run with an RBI force out and slamming into the center field wall to corral a would-be extra-base hit from Todd Frazier. It’s the latter play that got him into trouble, though he played through three more innings before the Twins yanked him in the bottom of the fifth with upper back tightness. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press corrected that diagnosis on Saturday, reporting that Buxton had instead suffered a cracked rib on the catch.

While the club has yet to address Buxton’s injury, he’s expected to make a full recovery well in advance of spring training. He missed 18 days with a bone contusion in his left hand and a left groin strain earlier in the year, but has been largely healthy for his third campaign with the Twins and finished the regular season batting .253/.314/.413 with 16 home runs and a career-best 3.5 fWAR in 511 PA.

As for the center field wall itself, it doesn’t seem like the Twins are inclined to spruce it up with extra padding over the offseason. Per Berardino, the club shelled out over $100,000 back in 2014 when Aaron Hicks and Sam Fuld sustained concussions after similar collisions at the wall.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.