You could not possibly start a game worse. Luis Severino would finish in the top three of 2017’s Cy Young voting. He was as dominant as any pitcher the Yankees have boasted this century. In a one-game playoff, at home, he was the perfect choice to start the 2017 Wild Card Game.
And he recorded one single out.
Brian Dozier led off the game with a solo home run, and after Joe Mauer popped out, Sevy walked the next batter, giving Eddie Rosario a meatball that made it 3-0. Two more walks meant it was time for then-rookie Chad Green to come in and try and stop the bleeding — which he did, and somehow, the Yankees pulled the whole thing off.
Final Score: Yankees 8, Twins 4
Game MVP: Didi Gregorius and the entire Yankee bullpen
One of my favorite things about that 2017 squad was how they were always in a game. To be down 3-0 in a must-win, before you even get to hit, must be crushing. There have certainly been flatter Yankee teams, that being in a deficit like that would take them out of sorts. Instead, it took just three batters for New York to get knotted back up:
Yankee Stadium gets a lot of deserved criticism for not having the atmosphere of its predecessor, but I’ll put the reaction to Didi Gregorius’ home run up against any moment in the old yard. An inning later, Brett Gardner gave the team the lead:
The Twins managed one more run, charged to Green in the third inning. Chad struck out the first four Twinkies he faced, but loaded the bases with one out. His night was done after two frames, and while David Robertson did allow one of those men to come home on a groundout, Houdini plied his magic, ending up with 3.1 innings of shutout work.
Five plus innings of relief work, allowing just one run while coming in far earlier than you’d plan for, Green and D-Rob got the outs needed to get the Yankees back to the dish, and the offense began to pull away. Gary Sánchez doubled and Greg Bird brought him around. Aaron Judge did Aaron Judge things:
2017 was a season full of promise, the arrival of the Baby Bombers and the opening of a championship window. This game in particular was possibly the high point of the whole year, a demonstration of resilience and affirmation of how deep the lineup was, how deadly the bullpen becomes in the postseason, and as always how important it is to hit the ball over the fence.
We’re still waiting for a championship, and so many of the big players in this game have left New York. It’s almost bittersweet to think about this game, and how we all felt afterward, given what we now know would happen in each of the successive five seasons. Still, for three and a half hours, the Yankees felt inevitable.