Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Yankees complete sweep of Twins, punch ticket to ALCS

12 Comments

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.

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

Astros
AP Images
10 Comments

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.