The New York Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins,10-4, in Game 1 of their American League Divisional Series on Friday. It was a back-and-forth offensive battle between two of the league’s top home run hitting teams, until the Bronx Bombers eventually pulled away at home.
The Yankees, who finished second to the Twins in the regular season in home runs, finally got their first homers of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. LeMahieu hit his first postseason home run, a solo homer off right-hander Cody Stashak, which preceded a two-out Gardner solo shot.
Why the Yankees won
The three rookie relievers — Zack Littell, Cody Stashak and Kyle Gibson — combined to give up seven runs. Manager Rocco Baldelli will at least be able to turn to the more experienced, core of his bullpen, which includes left-hander Taylor Rogers who led the team with 30 saves in 36 attempts, in Saturday’s Game 2. The Twins got out to an early lead after two homers off Yankees starter James Paxton, but he was able to settle down and limit the damage. Couple that with the offense answering back and staying aggressive and you have the perfect recipe for success. Back to Paxton, the club’s de facto ace, for a second. In his first career playoff start, the 30-year-old lefty posted the following line:
Minnesota and New York will face off again on Saturday for Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. The Twins will likely send out Jake Odorizzi to face Masahiro Tanaka. A New York win would put the Twins in a win-or-go-home predicament heading into Monday’s Game 3 in Minneapolis. Not only will the Twins be fighting against falling in an 0-2 hole, but they’ll try to end their 14 straight playoff loss streak, where 11 of them came at the ends of the Yankees since 2004. The Yankees blew the game open in the sixth and seventh innings thanks to home runs from DJ LeMahieu and Brett Gardner to go along with a LeMahieu three-run double. The Yankees now have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Why the Twins lost
The Yankees’ obviously lean on their potent lineup as opposed to their weakened pitching staff. And once the offense got going, they took full advantage of a shaky, young Minnesota bullpen. Edwin Encarnacion doubled off Jose Berrios, setting up for a Gleyber Torres fielder’s choice to score Encarnacion and Judge. After missing three weeks with an oblique strain, Encarnacion stepped up big to kick off the playoffs, and
Right fielder Aaron Judge had two impressive grabs in the outfield during Friday’s win. The first was a diving catch to rob Jorge Polanco of a base hit in the top of the third inning for the second out. We’re highlighting his second stellar save from Game 1 for Friday’s play of the game, which prevented a potential seventh-inning Minnesota rally.
The two home runs turned the game back in the their favor after Miguel Sano’s home run against Tommy Kahnle made it a one-run game at the beginning of the sixth inning. When Minnesota took Berrios out of the game after four innings, that’s when things really started to unravel for the Twins bullpen/heat up for the Yankees lineup.
Play of the Game
Let’s get into what you need to know from Game 1.
Judge, after Game 1: “First one’s the biggest game. First one’s always the biggest game. It sets the tone for the series. Especially getting it here at home and putting 10 runs. That’s big … Now Game 2 is the most important game in the series. Once we got past one, now Game 2 is the most important game. We’ve just got to stay focused, keep doing our job, and we’ll be where we want to be when we go to Minnesota.”
Thank you for joining us tonight!
A quiet second-half offense certainly didn’t help the Twins, but they were facing one of the league’s best bullpen on Friday. What lost the game for Minnesota was. Minnesota’s relievers are young, and for many of them this is the first time they’re dealing with the pressure of the postseason.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way with up-to-the minute updates of Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and Twins.