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.
After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.
In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.
The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.
“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”
Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.