Didi Gregorius
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Yankees bulldoze Twins 8-2 with grand slam in ALDS Game 2

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The Yankees continue to dominate the American League Division Series on Saturday, capturing their second straight win by a score of 8-2 over the Twins. They have a decent chance of wrapping the whole series on Monday, as they stand to make a clean sweep with just one more win.

Masahiro Tanaka led the charge for the Yankees, striking out seven of 19 batters and allowing just one run on three hits. He held the Twins scoreless for three innings, briefly losing control of the game in the fourth after walking Nelson Cruz and allowing back-to-back singles to Eddie Rosario and Mitch Garver, the latter of whom converted his into Minnesota’s first run. The All-Star righty recovered with a hitless fifth, however, and the Yankees’ bullpen continued to keep the Twins off the basepaths with another three straight innings of one-hit ball.

It wasn’t just poor hitting and missed opportunities that led to the Twins’ 12th straight postseason defeat against the Yankees, however. As MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park pointed out, their batters received previous few hittable pitches over the course of the evening:

The Twins’ own pitching, meanwhile, couldn’t keep the Yankees’ loaded lineup at bay for long. Starter Randy Dobnak was forced out of the game after just 2 1/3 innings, during which he recorded four runs, two walks, and zero strikeouts. He was pulled in the middle of a disastrous third inning, not only allowing three straight baserunners, but watching his replacement — right-hander Tyler Duffey — give up back-to-back runs to Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres.

The worst was still to come: Didi Gregorius clubbed a grand slam, knocking in another four runs to give the Yankees a 7-0 boost — and complete control of the game. Another base hit from Brett Gardner pushed the score to 8-0 by the end of the third, and even taking the Twins’ shutout-snapping RBI and brief ninth-inning rally into account, it was enough of a cushion to enable the Yankees to coast the rest of the way.

The clubs still have to wait until Monday to decide a winner, when the series pivots to Minnesota for Game 3. If the Yankees fail to pull off a sweep, they’ll push the ALDS to its fourth game on Tuesday, with a potential tie-breaking Game 5 back in New York on Thursday.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.