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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.

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as new manager

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The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.

Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.

Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.

Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.