Gleyber Torres Homers as Aaron Judge, Yankees Sweep Twins to Advance to ALCS

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2019

New York Yankees' Gleyber Torres celebrates as he runs the bases after hitting a home run during the second inning in Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series against the Minnesota Twins, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

The New York Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins in the postseason. Wash, rinse, repeat.

New York had eliminated Minnesota in the playoffs in 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2017 and did so again Monday with a 5-1 victory in Game 3 of an American League Division Series at Target Field. Gleyber Torres and Luis Severino helped the Yankees clinch their second appearance in the American League Championship Series in three years by providing power and pitching.

As for the Twins, they still haven't won a playoff series since 2002.

   

Notable Stats

  • Luis Severino: 4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K
  • Gleyber Torres: 3-for-4, HR, 2 2B, 3 R, SB
  • Didi Gregorius: 2-for-4, 2 RBI
  • Cameron Maybin: 1-for-1, HR
  • Jake Odorizzi: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 5 K
  • Eddie Rosario: 3-for-4, HR, 2B

   

Luis Severino Shows Yankees What They Were Missing All Season

The Yankees had few concerns on the way to 103 wins and the American League East crown, but their starters finished 15th with a 4.51 ERA and missed that reliable piece who was ready to roll every fifth day.

Severino played that part in 2017 and 2018 but made just three starts this year, all in September, because of shoulder and lat injuries. He finished with a 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings, hinting at what he could have been all season—and he was impressive yet again Monday.

While the right-hander is still working his way back, the Yankees couldn't have asked for much more. He escaped a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the second inning by getting Miguel Sano to pop out and striking out Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave. It was 1-0 at that point, and New York added a run in the next half-inning before Severino turned over that lead to the Bombers' formidable bullpen.

Severino's return along with that lockdown bullpen and powerful lineup make the Yankees the biggest threat to the Houston Astros and their quest for a second World Series crown in three years.

Despite Severino's performance, the lineup wasn't overshadowed thanks to Torres. The second baseman, who mixed in timely defense, started the scoring with a solo blast in the second inning and scored insurance runs in the seventh and ninth after hitting a pair of doubles.

It is safe to assume a lineup featuring Torres, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, among others, is going to produce. It is safe to assume a bullpen with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino, among others, is going to lock things down at the end of games. (Britton left Game 3 with an ankle injury.)

But the Yankees will need their starters to at least compete with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke if they do play the Astros in the ALCS so they can set the table for the lineup and bullpen. On Monday, Severino proved he can do just that—and be a significant part of the October equation.

   

Same Old Story for Twins

Things were supposed to be different this time.

The Twins led the majors with 307 home runs during the regular season—one more than the Yankees—and finished with 101 wins after closing the year on an 8-2 run. They appeared to be hitting their stride at the perfect time and had the power to take advantage of a starting staff that was something of a question mark.

So much for that.

Minnesota pitching was to blame for two losses in New York, allowing 18 runs in Yankee Stadium and failing to give the offense much of a chance. In a cruel twist of fate, the Twins bats went silent outside Eddie Rosario's solo home run in the eighth inning Monday, which made it 3-1.

The result stretched the Twins' MLB-record streak to 16 consecutive playoff losses since 2004, and the Yankees have been a major part of that misery (the Oakland Athletics contributed a sweep in 2006).

Maybe Minnesota will match up with another team next year.

   

What's Next?

The Yankees headed to the ALCS to face the Astros or Tampa Bay Rays and will look to make their first World Series appearance since 2009.

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