John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Five Takeaways from the Yankees' 5-1 win to sweep the Twins.
1) From start to finish the ALDS was a mismatch as the Yankees swept the Twins, and, as expected, the bullpens proved to be the most obvious difference between the teams. Or to put it another way: Aaron Boone's ballyhooed 'pen is living up to the hype so far.
With five more innings in Game 3, in fact, Yankees relievers pitched a total of 13 1/3 innings in the series, allowing only three runs -- and one of those was by Jonathan Loaisiga in a blowout situation in Game 2.
Meanwhile, the Twins' 'pen gave up 14 runs during the series, clearly not ready for the postseason stage. As a result, the Yankees won every game without a sweat, outscoring the AL Central champs by a total score of 23-7, while extending their postseason winning streak against the Twins to a rather unbelievable 13 games.
The only concern for the Yankees was an ankle injury Zach Britton incurred covering first base, forcing him out of the game in the eighth inning.
2) Some day Gleyber Torres may be remembered as the greatest player any team ever acquired in a rental trade -- even if Aroldis Chapman did help the Cubs end the most famous drought in the sport as they won the 2016 world championship.
At age 22, Torres is already bordering on superstardom, after leading all second basemen with 38 home runs this season, and now he's proving to be ready for the bright lights as well, as he hit .417 in this series.
More importantly, he jump-started the offense with a second-inning home run, added two doubles and scored three runs for the game. Maybe next series he'll be hitting higher than sixth in the lineup.
3) Let's face it, Luis Severino had a lot to prove, with respect to his 6.26 post-season ERA, but he answered any questions about whether he could handle October pressure, pulling off some great escapes to pitch four shutout innings against the Twins.
Most impressively, Severino didn't flinch when the Twins loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning, the Yankees leading 1-0 at the time. First he won an 8-pitch battle with slugger Miguel Sano, finally getting him to pop out on a 97-mph fastball; then struck out lefty-swinging Marwin Gonzalez on four pitches, getting him swinging on a sharp down-and-in slider; finally he struck out Jake Cave, another lefty, looking at another down-and-in slider.
He wasn't always sharp and he got away with some hanging sliders, but Severino made big pitches when it counted most. Gave the Yankees exactly the kind of lift they were hoping he could while waiting nearly all season for him to return from shoulder injury.
4) When Brian Cashman signed DJ LeMahieu as a free agent, he almost surely didn't envision him playing first base in October. Yet his ability to adapt there, as a former Gold Glove second baseman, has been a difference-making development for the Yankees. That and the often-brilliant play of Gio Urshela at third base has elevated the infield defense to among the best in baseball.
All of which paid off in spectacular fashion in the fifth on a game-changing play: Gleyber Torres made a gorgeous sliding grab in shallow right of Eddie Rosario's two-hopper, then spun and threw to LeMahieu, who scrambled back to the bag after first going for the ball, and dug a short hop out of the dirt to end the inning, as the Twins stranded two runners on base.
5) Aaron Judge went hitless for the first time in the series and still managed to have a significant impact, making a catch in right field that perhaps only he could, as he needed all of his 6-foot-7-inches, as well as his remarkable athleticism, to grab Miguel Sano's line drive while in full retreat toward the wall.
How hard was that catch in the sixth inning? Inside Edge, a scouting service that evaluates defensive play, rated the catch probability on Sano's liner as only 1-10 percent for all right fielders.
Judge made two diving catches in Game 2, and despite going 0-for-3 in Game 3, is still hitting .333 for the series with a .537 on-base percentage.