Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Aaron Boone has always had an elite human touch, but he famously struggled with pitching moves in his playoff managing debut last year against Boston. It's worth noting then, that he remained calm and followed the game plans in this series.
He took a few risks, and made a few moves that could have left his bullpen short, but it's impossible to accuse him of anything close to managing tight or choking. Quite the contrary, he assigned his pitchers to the lanes determined by pregame planning, and didn't make a single move because of passion or panic.
Boone appears to be evolving into a top in-game manager, in addition to his communication skills. This series was a coming out party of sorts.
Bottom of the order improving for ALCS
Going into the series, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius and Gio Urshela --- the 7-8-9 hitters in the lineup -- were struggling. Sanchez was attempting to return from a groin injury without the benefit of a rehab assignment, and the other two simply hadn't hit in September.
Of that trio, only Sanchez seems a real concern now, and even he managed a single on Monday for his first hit of the series. Gregorius followed his grand slam in Game 2 with a two RBI hits on Monday, and Urshela added a double. Suddenly, the lineup looks a bit longer headed into the LCS.
Judge's height helps
With a runner on second and one out in the sixth, Miguel Sano sent a fly ball to deep right field that would have been an extra base hit --- if any other right fielder in baseball had been in Aaron Judge's place. The expected batting average on the hit was .700, according to Statcast.
Using all of his 6-foot-7 frame, Judge stretched to make a catch that saved a run a possibly more.
Bullpen lanes in the fifth
The Yankees' bullpen strategy brought mixed results in the fifth inning. Tommy Kahnle began the frame, because the game presented his lane -- two lefties and a switch hitter in Jorge Polanco who is better batting lefty.
The Yanks like Kahnle against lefties because of his changeup. But Kahnle began by allowing a single on a changeup to Jake Cave. He retired the next two batters, and Adam Ottavino arrived at his lane: Nelson Cruz, whose ability to handle high velocity means the Yankees prefer he contend with Ottavino's slider.
But for the second time in this series, Ottavino walked Cruz and departed. It might have been hgis lane, but Cruz appeared to know why he was in the game, and wasn't playing along.
Gleyber Torres' huge play
With runners on first and second and two outs in the fifth, Eddie Rosario hit what appeared to be a run-scoring single into the gap in right field.
But Gleyber Torres, who was shifted over in that direction, made a diving stop on the grounder, then recovered to throw Rosario out at first. It was the second time in the game that Torres had stopped a ball in that area.
Oh, he homered and hit a pair of doubles, too. He is 22 years old.
Still working counts
The Yankees' plate patience has been a major factor in this series, and they continued to grind tough at-bats against Twins starter Jake Odorizzi on Monday. Through four innings, Odorizzi had only allowed two runs, but had thrown 74 pitches. He would last one more inning.
Ill-timed move by Sano
With a runner on third and two outs in the second inning, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano made three quick steps to his left before a 2-2 pitch to Brett Gardner.
Talk about bad luck: Gardner poked a single just past Sano, who would have fielded it easily had he been in his prior spot. The run scored, and the Yankees led 2-0.
Huge early adjustment by Severino
In the first two innings, Luis Severino encountered two different issues with his fastball: Velocity and command. Then he made a major adjustment.
In the first, his fastball averaged 94.9 mph, down from 96.2 in his three regular season appearances. By the second inning, the velocity was back to normal, but the pitch appeared hittable anyway; Eddie Rosario smoked a double off a high heater, and Luis Arraez singled on a fastball.
Severino found himself with the bases loaded and no outs. After getting Sano to pop up, he struck out Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave -- both on sliders. It was a key adjustment at a crucial time.