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Yankees defeat Twins 8-4 in AL Wild Card game, advance to ALDS

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The Yankees advanced to the ALDS with an 8-4 victory over the Twins in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card game at Yankee Stadium. They did so despite getting only one-third of an inning from starter Luis Severino.

Things started poorly for Severino and never got better. He served up a leadoff home run to Brian Dozier, walked Jorge Polanco with one out, then yielded a two-run home run to Eddie Rosario, putting the Yankees in a 3-0 hole before they could blink. Severino put two more runners on base before being yanked. Chad Green came in and stranded both runners to end the first inning, allowing Yankee fans to breathe a heavy sigh of relief.

The Yankees got back all three of those runs in the bottom half of the first against Ervin Santana. Brett Gardner led off with a walk and advanced to third when Aaron Judge singled. After Gary Sanchez fouled out, Didi Gregorius scorched a three-run home run to right field to tie the game up at three apiece.

Brett Gardner broke the tie in the bottom of the second with a home run to right field of his own off of Santana. The Twins re-tied it in the top of the third when a run scored on a Byron Buxton ground out (Buxton eventually left with an injury). The Yankees un-tied it in the bottom half of the third on a Greg Bird RBI single. Aaron Judge finally provided some breathing room, drilling a two-run home run to left field off of Jose Berrios in the fourth, making it a 7-4 game. Aaron Hicks drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh to account for the Yankees’ eighth and final run.

The unsung heroes of the game, of course, were the Yankees’ relievers. Green gave up a run, but he also got four of his six outs via strikeout, including two to help limit the damage in that sticky bottom of the first. David Robertson pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up three hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Tommy Kahnle retired all seven batters he faced. Closer Aroldis Chapman worked around a two-out single from Joe Mauer, striking out three batters in the ninth to make the win official.

The Yankees will now face the Indians in the ALDS, which begins on Thursday. Trevor Bauer will start Game 1 for the Indians.

Yankees keep ALCS hopes alive with 4-1 win over Astros

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The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.

In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.

Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).

Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.

With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.