Next Level Tanking

Going into last night, everyone knew Minnesota’s horrible record against New York in Yankee Stadium. And the fact that the Yankees have bumped the Twins off in four of their last five postseason appearances. So things were looking bleak for Minnesota when Yankees starter Luis Severino hit 100 on the radar gun with his first pitch. Again, you’re going into a place where you never win and the first pitch is a triple digit heater. But then Brian Dozier did this to the fifth pitch.

Hello! There’s a plot twist. Maybe Minnesota has something after all. Severino got the next batter out, walked the next one, and then came Eddie Rosario with one on, and one out.

Four batters, three runs, two homers, and one out. 4, 3, 2, 1. That’s one hell of a statement. The kind of statement that will change the narrative. They added a single and a double and Severino was done. If you’re looking to beat the team you can’t beat, in their place, knocking out their ace in less than 15 minutes is a pretty good way. The Yankees have a nasty bullpen, but I’m guessing that going to it in the first inning with two on and one out wasn’t the way Joe Girardi planned to use it, but he had to. And Chad Green came up big with a pair of strikeouts to stop the bleeding. And change the game.

Because in the bottom of the first, Brett Gardner drew a lead-off walk, Aaron Judge singled, and after Gary Sanchez went down, Didi Gregorius stepped up.

Hey Twins. NOW YOU’RE DONE. The second Didi’s bat hit the ground and the ball left the yard, they Twins could hailed their 25 cabs back to airport. Because I have never seen that joint rocking like that. That’s the first time since they moved into that building that it felt and sounded like the old Stadium. Tie game. 3-3 in the bottom of the first. Luis Severino couldn’t get out of the first and neither could the Twins. In fact, for a moment, I wasn’t sure that any of us would. That inning had more than 80 pitches, 3 home runs, 6 runs, and 45 minutes. Putting the “wild” in the wild card game, am I right?!?? Hey-o!!!!!!

BUT, again… Once the game was tied after one, it was over. Minnesota had their chance and they blew it in the first. Because the Yankees bullpen went to work. 26 outs, 13 of which were strikeouts. For all the talk about Aaron Judge, and he was great, going yard in his postseason debut, this was about Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman. They won the game and saved the Yankees season.

Minnesota’s bats and their own bullpen had no answer. Kent Hrbek and Joe Nathan weren’t walking through that door.

And as much as it was about what the Yankees did, it was also about what the Twins didn’t do. That was a massive choke job. They could’ve choked out the Yankees and instead they choked out themselves. Chase the opposing team’s ace after one out in the first inning and you should win that game. You have to win that game, and yet Minnesota found a way to lose. And I hate to say it, but that’s why you’re the Twins and they’re the Yankees.

That’s going to leave a mark. A serious scar that stings the entire offseason, and probably much longer than that: which is a drag because just reaching the postseason this year was an incredible accomplishment after they lost 103 games last season. There’s a lot to be proud of, but it’ll be hard to remember any of that because of what happened from the bottom of the first on. It was right there for them. Great top half of the first and then a disaster from that point on.

Congrats on a great season, condolences on how it ended.

 

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