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Yankees complete sweep of Twins, punch ticket to ALCS

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The Yankees held the Twins’ potent offense at bay en route to a 5-1 victory in Minnesota on Monday night, completing a series sweep in the ALDS. It is the third time since 2009 that the Yankees have swept the Twins out of the ALDS.

Gleyber Torres staked starter Luis Severino to a 1-0 lead with a solo homer that just barely made it over the wall in left field in the second inning off of Jake Odorizzi. The Yankees clawed for an additional run in the third inning on an RBI opposite-field ground ball single by Brett Gardner and again in the seventh when Didi Gregorius grounded an RBI single to right field.

Severino, who made his season debut on September 17 after missing the first five and a half months due to injuries, threw 83 pitches over four innings, scattering four hits and a pair of walks with four strikeouts. The Twins did threaten, loading the bases in the second inning and putting runners on first and second in the fourth, but Severino was able to escape without incurring damage.

Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Chad Green, and Zach Britton combined to keep the Twins off the board in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, allowing a combined three hits and one walk with one strikeout.

Britton returned to the mound in the eighth, allowing a leadoff solo homer to Eddie Rosario. He would get Mitch Garver to ground out next but ended exiting with an apparent ankle injury. It is believed that Britton suffered the injury covering first base during the seventh inning. Aroldis Chapman entered the game with the responsibility of converting a five-out save. He got Luiz Arraez to ground out before fanning Miguel Sanó to end the inning.

In the top of the ninth, facing Sergio Romo, Cameron Maybin lifted a very high fly ball that landed several rows back down the left field line for a solo homer, putting the Yankees’ lead back to three runs. The Yankees continued to threaten, as Torres doubled and Gary Sánchez walked, forcing Romo out of the game. Trevor May came in and allowed one of his inherited runners to score on a Gregorius single to make it 5-1.

Chapman returned to the bump in the bottom half of the ninth. He gave up a leadoff single to Marwin González, then walked C.J. Cron. Uh oh. Chapman bounced back by striking out Max Kepler. He then gave up a 106 MPH line drive to Jorge Polanco that was gloved by a diving Gregorius. Nelson Cruz made the final out, taking a called strike three on the inside corner.

The Twins haven’t won a playoff game since 2004. That was a long time ago!

The Yankees are back in the ALCS for the second time in three years. They memorably took the eventual world champion Astros to a seventh game in the ALCS in 2017. The Yankees are looking to return to the World Series for the first time since winning it all in 2009.

The ALCS will begin on Saturday. The Yankees will await the winner of the Astros-Rays ALDS series. The Astros currently lead 2-1 and will look to clinch their spot in the ALCS on Tuesday. If the Astros advance, they will have home field advantage. If the Rays defy the odds and knock the Astros out with two consecutive wins, the Yankees will have home field advantage in the ALCS.

Major League Baseball threatens to walk away from Minor League Baseball entirely

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The war between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball escalated significantly last night, with Minor League Baseball releasing a memo accusing Major League Baseball of “repeatedly and inaccurately” describing the former’s stance in negotiations and Major League Baseball responding by threatening to cut ties with Minor League Baseball entirely.

As you’re no doubt aware, negotiations of the next, 10-year Professional Baseball Agreement, which governs the relationship between the big leagues and the minors — and which is set to expire following the 2020 season — have turned acrimonious. Whereas past negotiations have been quick and uncontroversial, this time Major League Baseball presented Minor League Baseball with a plan to essentially contract 42 minor league baseball teams by eliminating their major league affiliation while demanding that Minor League Baseball undertake far more of the financial burden of player development which is normally the responsibility of the majors.

That plan became public in October when Baseball America reported on it, after which elected officials such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren began weighing in on the side of Minor League Baseball. Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball were not happy with all of that and, on Wednesday, Manfred bashed Minor League Baseball for taking the negotiations public and accused Minor League Baseball of intransigence, saying the minors had assumed a “take it or leave it” negotiating stance.

Last night Minor League Baseball bashed back in the form of a four-page public memo countering Manfred’s claims, with point-point-by-point rebuttals of Major League Baseball’s talking points on various matters ranging from stadium facilities, team travel, and player health and welfare. You can read the memo in this Twitter thread from Josh Norris of Baseball America.

Major League Baseball responded with its own public statement last night. But rather than publicly rebut Minor League Baseball’s claims, it threatened to simply drop any agreement with Minor League Baseball and, presumably start its own minor league system bypassing MiLB entirely:

“If the National Association [of Minor League Clubs] has an interest in an agreement with Major League Baseball, it must address the very significant issues with the current system at the bargaining table. Otherwise, MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement.”

So, in the space of about 48 hours, Manfred has gone from being angry at the existence of public negotiations to negotiating in public, angrily.

As for Minor League Baseball going public itself, one Minor League Baseball owner’s comments to the Los Angeles Times seems to sum up the thinking pretty well:

“Rob is attempting to decimate the industry, destroy baseball in communities and eliminate thousands of jobs, and he’s upset that the owners of the teams have gone public with that information in an effort to save their teams. That’s rich.”

Things, it seems, are going to get far worse before they get better. If, in fact, they do get better.