The New York Yankees had little trouble overcoming a rough top of the first inning against the Minnesota Twins, and the Bombers emerged from the American League Wild Card Game with an 8-4 triumph Tuesday night.
The victory means the Yankees will be traveling to Cleveland to begin their best-of-five series with the Indians Thursday night. The other ALDS series also starts Thursday, as the Houston Astros will host the Boston Red Sox. Game 1 will feature Red Sox ace Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA) against Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36 ERA) at 4:08 p.m. ET.
The Arizona Diamondbacks will host the Colorado Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game Wednesday night as Jon Gray (10-4, 3.67 ERA) will take the mound for the visitors against Zack Greinke (17-7, 3.20 ERA). The winner of that game will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in a National League Division series, while the Chicago Cubs will meet the Washington Nationals in the other NLDS.
Both National League series will begin Friday.
The Yankees sent Luis Severino to the mound with the hopes of shutting down the Twins and recording an easy victory. Severino gave up two first-inning home runs and made it through just one out before manager Joe Girardi pulled him from the game.
While there was no panic by the home side, it was uncomfortable in the Yankees dugout. That feeling lasted until Didi Gregorius launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the first to tie the game.
New York's stellar relief pitching dominated the game from that point forward, and the Yankees got home runs from Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge in addition to the Gregorius shot.
Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman gave the Yankees 26 outs in the game, and they won the admiration of Girardi.
"Our bullpen was remarkable tonight, the innings that David Robertson gave us," Girardi said, per George A. King III of the New York Post. "How they saved each other's runs. I mean it was just remarkable."
Robertson pitched a career-high 3.1 innings to help save the Yankees.
The Yankees will most likely give the ball to Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.55) in Game 1 against the Indians, while Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19) will go to the mound for the Indians.
All of the division series will be decide in best-of-five formats. The winner of the Boston-Houston series will meet the winner of the New York-Cleveland series in the American League Championship Series. That series is scheduled to get underway October 13.
The winner of the Chicago-Washington series will meet the winner of the Los Angeles wild-card survivor series, and that National League Championship Series will begin October 14.
The ALCS and the NLCS are both best-of-seven series.
The winners of the respective league championship series will meet in the World Series, which gets underway October 24. The World Series is also a best-of-seven competition, as it has been since 1922. The World Series was a best-of-nine affair in 1903 and again from 1919 through 1921.
The Yankees are a formidable opponent for the Indians in the ALDS, and Cleveland is likely to have a moment or two of discomfort. However, the Indians are too strong and will beat the Yankees in four games.
The Red Sox have the left-handed pitching, outfield defense and just enough clutch hitting to take the Astros to the limit. The fifth and decisive game will go to the Red Sox as Sale demonstrates his worth and gets the ball to closer Craig Kimbrel for a shutdown ninth inning.
The Red Sox will be motivated by the chance to get some revenge on the Indians after getting swept in last year's division series. The Red Sox will push the Indians to the limit, but Cleveland is too deep and too good to be denied. Francisco Lindor will have a stellar series, and Corey Kluber will win two games. The Indians win the American League pennant with a seven-game triumph.
After the Diamondbacks eliminate the Rockies in the Wild Card Game, the team will hit its stride and power past the Dodgers in four games. Clayton Kershaw's mysterious postseason issues will continue, and the outstanding one-two punch of Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez will provide the power for Arizona.
The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs are going to be tough to beat, but the Washington Nationals will overcome their past frustrations to take this series to the limit. Look for the Nats to dominate in Game 5 and move on to the NLCS.
The Nats will have home-field advantage over the Diamondbacks, but it won't matter. Arizona has all the momentum after beating the Dodgers, while the Nats will get off to a slow start at home. The Diamondbacks win the series in six and will play the Indians in the World Series.
This time, there will be no heartbreak in Cleveland. The Tribe will lose Game 4 when going for the sweep, but Terry Francona's team will be on point in Game 5 and take the World Series trophy back to the team's ecstatic fans in Believeland.