Jeter, A-Rod, Sabathia fuel Yankees' Game 1 win

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Given the circumstances, the only real surprise from Game 1 of the ALDS is that the Twins jumped out to an early lead.
After playing 12 innings to decide the AL Central crown Tuesday night and arriving in New York at around 3:30 a.m. local time for a 6:07 p.m. game, the Twins drew first blood with a pair of third-inning runs before 26-year-old rookie Brian Duensing predictably struggled in his first taste of the playoffs, at Yankee Stadium, against baseball’s best offense (with a bespectacled Jay-Z looking on, no less).
Derek Jeter quickly erased Minnesota’s early lead with a two-run homer in the next half-inning and Nick Swisher’s run-scoring double–with the aid of shoddy throws from both left fielder Delmon Young and shortstop Orlando Cabrera–in the fourth frame gave New York the lead before the Yankees broke the game open in the fifth inning. Jeter drew a leadoff walk and came around to score on Alex Rodriguez’s first postseason hit with runners in scoring position since approximately 1942.
With the Yankees up 4-2 manager Ron Gardenhire gave Duensing a quick hook, pulling the southpaw with two outs despite left-hander Hideki Matsui coming to the plate. Duensing held left-handed batters to just .244/.311/.268 this season, but Gardenhire chose to bring in fellow southpaw Francisco Liriano and his slightly worse .255/.325/.307 mark against lefties. Whether he thought that Duensing was tired after throwing 79 pitches or Liriano was simply a better matchup against Matsui the move didn’t work.
Matsui got ahead of Liriano and homered on a 2-1 pitch, putting the Yankees up 6-2. New York tacked on another run against Liriano in the seventh inning and Minnesota went just 4-for-23 with four singles and one walk after scoring the pair of third-inning runs. Armed with a five-run lead and an off day next on the schedule the Yankees’ bullpen went into full shutdown mode with Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, Joba Chamberlain, and finally Mariano Rivera relieving CC Sabathia after his 6.2 innings of two-run ball.
Sabathia pitched well despite some shaky work behind the plate from Jorge Posada, striking out eight, walking none, and allowing just two extra-base hits after coming into the game with a 7.92 ERA in five previous playoff starts. And once armed with a lead the Yankees’ bullpen trio of Hughes, Chamberlain, and Rivera–with a little Coke mixed in against tough left-handers–is going to be awfully tough to come back on throughout the postseason.
About the only negative from the Yankees’ point of view is that Mark Teixeira went 0-for-4 and hit into a double play, but the rest of New York’s incredibly deep and dangerous lineup picked up the slack and the quintet of pitchers combined for a dozen strikeouts versus just one walk. Sabathia working into the seventh inning before handing things over to Rivera and company is a combination that looks capable of carrying the Yankees deep into October, and he’s now won seven of eight starts versus the Twins.
Luckily for the Twins they have matchups against the far more hittable A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte before Sabathia’s turn in the rotation comes around again in Game 4 and today’s break in the schedule gives them a chance to set up their own rotation after throwing Duensing almost by default. As noted in my ALDS preview Nick Blackburn against Burnett is the Twins’ most favorable matchup of the series and that’s on tap when play resumes tomorrow night for Game 2.

Seager homers, Dodgers edge Brewers 4-2 in wild-card opener

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Mookie Betts had two hits and an RBI, Corey Seager homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 in the opener of their NL wild-card series on Wednesday night.

The eight-time West champion Dodgers capitalized early in a bullpen game for the Brewers and can wrap up the best-of-three series on Thursday. Milwaukee – a playoff entrant despite a losing record – limped into the postseason as the No. 8 seed without its best starter and reliever, who are hurt.

The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead on a leadoff double by Betts and four walks by left-hander Brent Suter in the first, tying for the most walks by a pitcher in a single inning in postseason history. Betts scored when Will Smith drew a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded. Seager walked and scored on AJ Pollock‘s bases-loaded walk.

Suter needed 32 pitches to get out of the inning. The left-hander gave up three runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings. His five walks were a career high, and he didn’t record a strikeout.

Chris Taylor doubled leading off the second and scored on Betts’ double, making it 3-0. Max Muncy walked with two outs and Ryan Braun caught Smith’s drive to right at the wall to end the inning, potentially saving three runs.

Braun winced as he hit the wall with his right shoulder. He was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the fifth.

The Dodgers could have inflicted more damage but were just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position in the first two innings.

Milwaukee pitchers retired 10 straight Dodgers during one stretch.

Clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh, Seager went deep to dead-center off Freddy Peralta, who gave up just two homers during the shortened 60-game season. The Dodgers led the majors with 118 homers.

Closer Kenley Jansen walked pinch-hitter Jace Peterson with two outs in the ninth. Christian Yelich came to the plate as the potential tying run, but he struck out swinging to end the game. Jansen earned the save.

The Brewers closed to 3-2 on Orlando Arcia‘s two-strike, two-run homer with two outs in the fourth. Betts made an over-the-shoulder catch to deny Avisail Garcia with a runner on for the second out of the inning.

Milwaukee had the potential tying run on in the seventh with Yelich’s two-out double in the left-field corner. Tyrone Taylor popped up to third to end the inning.

The Brewers also threatened in the sixth. Avisail Garcia singled to right and was safe at second on first baseman Muncy’s fielding error. Muncy turned and scrambled into short right, trying to pick up the ball with a swooping motion, but it booted off his glove and rolled away. Julio Urias retired the next two batters to end the inning.

Urias got the victory, allowing three hits in three innings and striking out five.

Garcia had three hits and Yelich had two to lead the Brewers.

Pitching with a blister on his right index finger, Walker Buehler allowed two runs and three hits in four innings for Los Angeles. He struck out eight and walked two.

Milwaukee right-hander Corbin Burnes and reliever Devin Williams are missing this series with injuries that occurred in the last week of the season. Burnes has a strained left oblique and Williams has a sore right shoulder. Starter Brett Anderson also was left off the roster because of a blister issue.

WITHOUT WILLIAMS

Losing Williams is a big blow after he emerged as one of baseball’s top relievers this season and is a candidate for NL Rookie of the Year. He is 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 27 innings. “It’s really crushing, honestly,” said Williams, who felt tightness after last weekend’s outing. “If we make it to the next round, I should be back. With the progress we’ve made in just a few days, it’s been encouraging.”

UP NEXT

The Dodgers give the ball to left-hander Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16 ERA) for Game 2 on Thursday. He’s 9-11 with a 4.43 ERA in the postseason and lost his lone start in last year’s NLDS. The Brewers start right-hander Brandon Woodruff, who was 3-5 with a 3.05 ERA during the shortened season. He came up big last weekend with 10 strikeouts over eight shutout innings in a must-win game that helped Milwaukee eke out the No. 8 seed.

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