They Scared Me Half to Death, But the Yankees Are Going to the ALDS

What a game. The thought of them losing had me sick to my stomach all day, and it only got worse after it was 3-0 Twins. If you told me before the game that Severino was going to pitch one third of an inning I would’ve said you were crazy. I mean, I knew there was a chance he would have some nerves and not pitch well, but man was he awful. He couldn’t hit any of his spots or keep the ball down, and even though both homers barely got out of the ballpark, the pitches were huge mistakes. I would’ve felt a little bad for him had we lost because it would’ve put a blemish on what was otherwise an outstanding season from our young ace. But in the moment I was furious at him; your ace has to be better than that in a game like that, regardless of how old he is or how much experience he has. Either way, it was a terrible start but thankfully it won’t be his last this season. I’ll be looking forward to him getting a chance to redeem himself in his next start, likely in Game 3 on Sunday in the Bronx.

Just like we all thought, Chad Green was indeed the first one out of the bullpen, being called upon to put out a fire. He did just that, stranding runners on second and third with one out by striking out Byron Buxton and Jason Castro. Chad Green has been an unsung hero for the Yanks all year, and has quietly established himself as one of the best relievers in baseball. A 3-0 deficit in the 1st didn’t feel great, but a 5-0 deficit would have been absolutely brutal.

Just as I was starting to think that maybe this would actually be the last game I saw the 2017 Yankees play, they came right back. A Gardner walk and a Judge single set up Didi Gregorious’ game-tying 3-run homer that sent Yankee fans into an absolute frenzy.

 

Talk about filling the shoes of Derek Jeter, Didi has been all you could ask for in a shortstop and then some. The guy is an absolute joy to watch, and I’m glad he was the hero last night.

After a scoreless second by Green, the Yankees quickly took the lead in the bottom half of the inning with a homer off the bat of Brett Gardner. It really seemed to be going foul off the bat, but it snuck into the second deck in right field not too far from the foul pole. Gardner easily has the most playoff experience out of anyone in the Yankees’ lineup last night, and you could tell the high stakes didn’t affect his composure.

Green created a bit of a fire of his own in the third, loading the bases with one out. This time it was David Robertson getting the call, and he almost induced an inning-ending double play to get out unscathed. However, the speedy Buxton couldn’t be doubled off at first, and the Twins tied the game at 4. Robertson then struck out Jason Castro to keep the score even.

After a Gary Sanchez leadoff double to start the bottom of the third, both Didi and Starlin Castro struck out. But Greg Bird, back from basically the dead after a 6-60 start and months on the DL, singled him home to regain the Yankee lead. Literally any halfway decent throw would have gotten Sanchez at the plate, as he isn’t exactly Bo Jackson on the bases. But it was up the line, so he scored easily.

In the Yankees’ next at-bat, they padded the lead thanks to a familiar face. I didn’t think Aaron Judge was going to get any pitches to hit last night, but he found one he liked and made the Twins pay.

For a guy who’s usually pretty low key, it was great to see the kid show some emotion after coming through in a big game. It was also great to see him thrive under pressure because the “Judge isn’t clutch” narrative has come up at a few times this year, and a homer in his first career playoff game certainly helps to silence those critics.

For as action-packed as the first few innings were, the remainder of the game was mostly uneventful. The only other scoring play was when Aaron Hicks walked in a run in the 7th to make the Yankee lead 8-4. Robertson went 3 and 1/3 innings to pick up the win, and Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman threw the final 3 and 1/3. Overall, the Yankee bullpen went 8 and 2/3 innings last night, surrendering just one run on five hits. I ripped Brian Kenny for his theory that Chad Green should start the game and let the Yankee bullpen handle it, but that’s basically what ended up happening.

No Yankee game has been this much of an emotional rollercoaster for me since Raul Ibanez hit the game-tying and walk-off homers in the 2012 ALDS. My friends and I kept talking about how different the feeling was going into the Wild Card game this year compared to 2015. The 2015 team was old and limped to the finish line, nearly blowing home field advantage for the game. You knew that even if they beat the Astros, they weren’t making any noise in the playoffs. The 2017 Yankees, however, had a great month of September, coming into last night’s game with momentum. By no means are they favorites against the Indians, but they have all the pieces to put up a good fight. For as good as the Yankees have been all year, it would have been a shame to see them in just one playoff game.

To summarize, for as much as Severino let us down, he was picked up by his teammates who rose to the occasion, such as Green, Didi, Robertson, Gardner, and Judge. The Yanks will get an off day before Game 1 in Cleveland Thursday, in a likely matchup of Sonny Gray vs. Trevor Bauer. When this series comes back home on Sunday, I’ll be in attendance. Forcing at least a split on the road seems necessary, and with Corey Kluber lurking in Game 2, the series opener will be absolutely huge for the Bronx Bombers.

October baseball baby, nothing like it. If you’re not almost throwing up because of how into the game you are, you’re doing something wrong. Let’s hope Thursday is a Sonny day & let’s go Yankees!!

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