Oh man, oh man, OH MAN! The Yankees won their first playoff game in five years, and I only cried three. Okay, I’m under control. The 2017 New York Yankees, the rebuilding team that was a year or two away, is headed to the American League Division Series after overcoming a horrifying start to top the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card game, 8-4.
Luis Severino had a legitimate Cy Young season in 2017, but that didn’t mean anything tonight. The 23-year-old gave up more home runs than he recorded outs, going just a third of an inning. Brian Dozier led off the game with a solo shot, and after walking Jorge Polanco, Severino left a cement mixer in the middle of the plate. Eddie Rosario lined that into the right field seats, making it 3-0 Twins.
Severino continued to struggle, putting the next two men on before Joe Girardi went to the bullpen. Chad Green, our beautiful rookie reliever, struck out the next two Twinkies to get out of the jam down three.
There’s a reason this game is nine innings, though, and we saw that in full effect tonight. The Yankees roared right back in the bottom half, with Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge reaching base before Didi Gregorius tied the game with a screaming home run. The very next inning, Gardner was knocked down by a high inside fastball from Ervin Santana. The Yankees left fielder then knocked the next pitch into the second deck and the Bombers had a 4-3 lead.
Green, brilliant early, got into a bit of trouble in the third, loading the bases with just one out. Girardi got his hook out again, bringing in David Robertson who immediately engineered a run-scoring groundout but set the table to escape the inning with minimal damage. Robertson was one of the many stars of the night for the team as he wound up throwing 3.1 innings of shutout baseball, buying the Yankees time to pull away.
And how the Yankees pulled away indeed. Third inning? Greg Bird chases home Gary Sanchez after the Kraken doubled, 5-4 Yankees. Fourth inning? Judge crushed a ball into left field to score two more and make it a 7-4 game. Seventh inning? After walking Didi intentionally to load the bases, Alan Busenitz walked Aaron Hicks for the 8-4 lead.
The rest of this absolutely bonkers game was ALMOST academic. Tommy Kahnle kept working into the eighth, and lucked out with a heads-up play from Starlin Castro in the eighth. After Zack Granite missed the first base bag, Castro picked up a dropped ball to tag out the runner and ensure there was no more funny business. The team turned to Aroldis Chapman for the ninth, who struck out the side around a Joe Mauer single to close the game.
Some parts of this game defy all logic. The Yankees won a game where their best starter recorded exactly one out. The biggest pieces of the win tonight, Green, Robertson and Kahnle, weren’t even on the roster at the beginning of the season. Plus, we all made it through four hours of nerve-shredding baseball without our heads exploding.
The Yankees will have to make a decision regarding their starter Thursday night in Cleveland. It seems likely Sonny Gray will get the ball, and he will oppose Trevor Bauer, who will hopefully avoid bleeding all over the baseball this postseason. First pitch from Progressive Field will be at 7:30pm EST, on FS1. See you there!