The 2017 A.L. Wild Card Game played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx lived up to it’s name. “Wild”. Wild indeed !! The NY Yankees won a baseball game against the Minn. Twins in which their starting pitcher went exactly 1/3 of an inning. Their vaunted bullpen was tested beyond all imaginable limits. Called upon to record 26 outs, the Yankee pen put on a performance for the ages. 4 Relief-pitchers, 8 2/3 innings, 1 Run, 13 Strike Outs.
Yankee starter Luis Severino who had established himself as the team’s Ace and a Cy Young candidate, came into the game over-amped and could not control his fastball or slider. His velocity on his first pitch was 100 mph. The problem was everything was hard. No real off-speed pitches. The Twins hit 2 homers, scored 3 runs, and had runners on 2nd & 3rd with only 1 out in the 1st and before many Yankee fans had even settled into their seats. Severino was throwing everything hard and was relying on 2 pitches FB & Slider. No change-ups until the damage was done.
The final line for Severino : 0.1 inn, 4H, 3ER, 1BB, 0K, 2HR. Who could have seen that coming? Who could even imagine such an outing? No one. Right? Weeeeeeellll , if you read my column ” 91-71 Record” written before the game, I warned of that exact scenario (here is the link). But the good news is, Sevy got bailed out.
THE ULTIMATE TEAM EFFORT:
With the Yankees down 3-0, runners on 2nd & 3rd and the Twins looking to deliver the knock out blow, Chad Green came in from the bullpen and struck out the next 2 batters, stranding 2 runners and breathing life back into the stunned Yankee faithful. Brett Gardner walked to lead off the bottom of the 1st. Aaron Judge impressed me as much with his first AB as any home run he hit all season. After working the count full on Ervin Santana, he hung in on a tough slider on the outside corner and just stuck his bat out, and served a soft single to center field. This set up the inning, putting runners on the corners. After Sanchez popped out to the catcher, Didi Gregorius blasted a 3 run home run to tie the game. His bat flip as he followed through demonstrated how confident a player he has become. There were many heroes on the night but make no mistake, none bigger than Chad Green & Didi Gregorius who turned the game around and allowed the Yankee Stadium crowd to get right back into the game. The Stadium was loud. Really LOUD.
THE POWER OF THE PEN:
From a pitching standpoint the Yankee bullpen reminded us for this game, of the vintage relief corp of the late’90’s dynasty team. Here was the lines of the 4 relievers.
C. Green : 2.0 inn, 1ER, 2BB / 4K
D. Robertson : 3.1 inn, 3H, 0R , 1 BB/ 5 K
T. Kahnle : 2.1 inn, 0H, 0R, 0 BB / 1 K
A. Chapman : 1.0 inn 1H, 0R, 0BB / 3K
Add up the K’s. 13 Strike Outs recorded by the bullpen. When was the last time a bull pen did that in a postseason game ? Never. 13 Ks is now an MLB record.
There were plenty of offensive heroes also. Didi’s 3 run HR was huge . Gardner gave the Yankees their first lead with a HR and glared at Santana for throwing up & in on him (there has to be no better feeling than that for a hitter). Judge hit a frozen-rope just over the LF fence giving the Yanks breathing room at 7-4. Bird also contributed with an RBI single. Sanchez had two big hits and Hicks walked with the bases loaded to finish the scoring at 8-4.
SUGAR HIGH :
The Yankees continue to devour the twinkies. No gluten-free diet here. Amazingly, the Yanks continue their dominance of the Twins as last night’s win made it 10 post season wins in a row! Congratulations are in order for this 2017 Yankee team. They are young but they are legit. They have arrived, and they are a force to be reckoned with !!
NEXT STOP CLEVELAND
GO NYY !!