Yankees overcome historically bad Severino start to beat Twins in AL Wild Card game

The
Minnesota Twins
and
New York Yankees
 kicked off the playoffs on Tuesday night  (GameTracker), playing the 2017 American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won by an 8-4 final, ensuring they’ll move on to play the
Cleveland Indians
in the divisional round. The Twins, meanwhile, are headed home for the winter.

Here’s what you need to know about the game.

Neither starter had it

Earlier in the day, we highlighted Strat-O-Matic’s projection. Their simulation foresaw a pitcher’s duel, with
Luis Severino
and
Ervin Santana
trading zeroes for most of the night. Let’s just say that’s not how things worked out — for either pitcher.

Severino exited after facing six batters and recording one out. Before he did, he allowed three runs on four hits and a walk, including two homers– one by
Brian Dozier
, one by
Eddie Rosario
. Predictably, Severino’s start goes down as one of the worst in postseason history.

Santana lasted longer, but wasn’t much better. He too allowed a pair of home runs, though he gave up four runs over two innings of work. Santana’s night was particularly laborious, since he threw 35 strikes on 64 pitches. His first inning alone required more than 40 tosses.

This was a slow, sloppy-feeling game. In that respect, the starters set the pace.

The bullpens mostly did

The fact there were 12 runs scored total in a game where the starting pitchers combined to record seven outs hints that the bullpens did work. That was true for a few pitchers in particular.

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Because the Yankees won, you’ll be hearing a lot of praise directed toward
Chad Green
,
David Robertson
, and
Tommy Kahnle
. Each of those three worked at least two innings, with Robertson working 3 1/3 innings. Green was the first reliever out of either team’s bullpen. He allowed a run and two walks over two innings, though he also struck out four batters. Robertson was highly effective, striking out five batters and keeping the Twins off the scoreboard. (You can read more about his night here.) Kahnle then threw 2 1/3 clean innings himself. Even
Aroldis Chapman
, who has been shaky at times, turned in a fine ninth where he allowed just a hit to close the game down.

As for the Twins, they got more length from their starter — albeit slightly — and asked less of their relievers. Starter
Jose Berrios
went three innings, giving up three runs on five hits while fanning fur. From there, the Twins passed the baton quicker:
Trevor Hildenberger
notched four outs (and gave up a run);
Taylor Rogers
got an out before ducking; and
Alan Busenitz
got an out, too before giving way.
Matt Belisle
finished the Twins’ side of things with an uneventful inning.

There were historic home runs

We’ll cover all these together.

  • Dozier’s aforementioned home run? It marked the first time a batter opened the first postseason game with a dinger.

  • One of those home runs Santana allowed was to
    Aaron Judge
    . Yup, in his first playoffs appearance. Judge became the first Yankees rookie to do that since Shane Spencer in the 1998 ALDS, and the third overall (the first being Elston Howard in the 1955 World Series).

  • The other home run Santana allowed — the first — was hit by
    Didi Gregorius
    . Notable, since it was the first time in postseason history someone hit a game-tying or go-ahead home run in the first inning with their team down by three or more runs.

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Remember, all this happened within the first two innings.

Yanks get production from top-of-the-order

For all the talk about the pitching staffs, let’s not overlook that the Yankees’ best hitters did work.
Brett Gardner
, Aaron Judge, and
Gary Sanchez
— the Yanks’ one-through-three hitters — combined for seven hits in 12 at-bats, including three runs batted in. The no. 4 hitter, Gregorius, drove in three with his home run. The Yankees also got down-order contributions from
Greg Bird
and
Aaron Hicks
, each of whom plated a run.

Buxton shows off, but leaves hurt

During the early stages of the game,
Byron Buxton
seemed en route to hanging his star. He followed a spectacular jumping grab by beating out a routine double-play ball that allowed the Twins to tie the score. Alas, that was the end of that. Buxton departed with back tightness.

Twins drop 13th consecutive playoff game

The Twins had a great, surprising season. Unfortunately, it met a familiar end. The Twins’ loss on Tuesday was their 13th consecutive postseason defeat. Ten of those 13 have came against the Yankees, including each of the last seven. The Twins seem to have a promising future, but Lord do they ever need to avoid the Yankees the next time they reach October.

Yankees to face Indians

By virtue of winning on Tuesday, the Yankees will now play the Indians in the ALDS. That series will begin on Thursday. For those wondering, the Yankees and Indians played seven times during the regular season, with the Indians winning five of those games. The Yankees were outscored by 11 runs overall, and averaged just under three runs per game.

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If there’s some good news for the Yankees, it’s that they won’t have to face
Corey Kluber
in Game 1. Whether that’s enough for New York to jump out to a series lead or not — well, that’s why they play the games. 

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