ShareThis Page
MLB

Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, bullpen rally wild-card Yankees past Twins

| Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, 6:24 a.m.

NEW YORK — Minutes into the playoff debut for these young New York Yankees, they trailed Minnesota by three runs. Their starting pitcher lasted just one out. A sellout crowd was stunned.

Could their postseason be over almost before it began?

Nope. A strange AL wild-card game was only just beginning.

“We've had a quite a few games where we've gotten down early,” Aaron Judge said. “Just keep battling. Just stay calm. Just play your game, and good things will happen.”

Judge, Didi Gregorius and a brilliant bullpen rescued New York and lifted the Yankees to their first postseason victory in five years.

Gregorius' three-run homer tied the score in the first inning after Minnesota knocked out Luis Severino, a pumped-up Judge showed his most emotion this season when he hit a two-run shot in his playoff debut and the Yankees beat the Twins 8-4 Tuesday night. New York plays the Indians in a best-of-five Division Series starting Thursday.

“We're not done yet,” Judge said. “We've just got to keep it rolling in Cleveland.”

Brett Gardner also homered for the Yankees, who chased Ervin Santana after two innings and once again eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs.

Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman combined for 8 23 innings of one-run, five-hit relief, striking out 13 to tie the postseason record for a bullpen.

“It was just remarkable,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Twins manager Paul Molitor marveled at the Yankees relievers and Girardi's use of them over 142 pitches.

“He extended some guys probably past their comfort zone,” the Hall of Famer said. “They still performed.”

Brian Dozier led off the game with a home run and Eddie Rosario hit a two-run drive as the Twins burst to a quick lead.

But Santana went to full counts on eight of 11 batters, and he was removed after six outs and 64 pitches with the Twins trailing 4-3.

“It's the exhilaration of jumping out,” Molitor said, “and then the deflation of giving it back so quickly.”

Minnesota, the first team to follow a 100-loss season with a playoff appearance, lost its 13th consecutive postseason game, tying the record set by Boston from 1986-95. The Twins have been eliminated by the Yankees in five of their last six postseason appearances and have not won a playoff series since 2002.

“Nobody expected us to be here,” Byron Buxton said. “That's an amazing achievement.”

New York won nine regular-season games after trailing by three runs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau — including when Severino fell behind against the Twins on Sept. 20 as New York rebounded to complete a series sweep. Gregorius erased the deficit in this one four batters into the bottom of the first.

“I was hyped, and I tried to get the game going, tried to get the guys going,” he said.

Judge, the 6-foot-7 sensation who set a rookie record with 52 home runs, was given a Ruthian ovation, with several sections of fans holding signs in his honor spelling out “All Rise!” He scored three runs, hitting a single to help ignite the first-inning rally, smoking a 108 mph home run off loser Jose Berrios in the fourth and walking in the seventh before coming home when Alan Busenitz walked Aaron Hicks with the bases loaded.

Judge shouted in excitement as he rounded first base after the homer, his face flush with emotion.

“This place was rocking. It was incredible,” he said.

New York had made only one postseason appearance since 2012, losing the 2015 wild-card game to Houston 3-0. Just three Yankees who started that game were in the starting lineup, part of a Baby Bombers movement that purged the roster of veterans.

At 23, Severino was the youngest Yankees postseason starter since Andy Pettitte in 1995. The right-hander lasted only 29 pitches on a crisp autumn night and matched the Yankees' shortest postseason start, by Bob Turley in Game 2 of the 1958 World Series and Art Ditmar in the 1960 World Series opener.

Severino was shaking his head as walked to the dugout and Green replaced him with runners at second and third. Green struck out Buxton and Jason Castro , then fanned three in a row in the second.

“I think we're all ready to be in from the first to the ninth,” Green said.

Robertson came in with the bases loaded in the third and allowed Buxton's RBI grounder , then struck out Castro.

Robertson tired in the sixth but earned the win, leaving after 52 pitches and 3 13 innings. His only longer professional outing was 3 23 innings for Double-A Trenton in April 2008.

Kahnle relieved with a runner on and retired Joe Mauer on a flyout to the warning track . After Kahnle threw 2 13 perfect innings , Chapman struck out three around a hit in the ninth.

A pitcher named Santana — Johan Santana — beat the Yankees for the Twins' last postseason win in 2004. But Ervin Santana's career postseason ERA climbed to 6.57, contributing to a first inning that lasted 45 minutes and three innings that took 1:43.

Gardner walked leading off, Judge poked a single to center and Gregorius lined a fastball over the right-field scoreboard. Brushed off the plate by a 2-2 pitch in the second, Gardner sent Santana's next offering into the second deck in right for a 4-3 lead.

Green struck out the side in the second, but left in the third after a leadoff single and two walks loaded the bases. Buxton hit into a run-scoring forceout before Robertson struck out Castro, and the Yankees went ahead for good in the bottom half when Gary Sanchez doubled off Berrios leading off and scored on Greg Bird's two-out single.

“”I think we can win it all,” Todd Frazier said after a draining game that took 3:51. “If we just keep doing what we've been doing, like we did today, sky's the limit.”

NATIONAL ANTHEM

After a moment of silence for victims of the Las Vegas shooting , Broadway star Aaron Tveit asked fans to join him in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Players on both teams remained at attention on the field until the color guard reached the foul line. Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve, a Las Vegas native, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

WAY BACK WHEN

When the Yankees last won a postseason game, Judge was at Fresno State. Bird had just finished a season with the Class A Staten Island Yankees, Sanchez with the Class A Tampa Yankees and Severino with the Dominican Summer League Yankees.

UP NEXT

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (13-12) is likely to start Thursday for the Yankees against the Indians and Trevor Bauer (17-9).

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge, right, celebrates with Aaron Hicks, center, as Brett Gardner, left, watches after the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-4 in the American League wild-card baseball playoff game, early Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge, right, celebrates with Aaron Hicks, center, as Brett Gardner, left, watches after the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-4 in the American League wild-card baseball playoff game, early Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge celebrates in the dugout with teammates after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge celebrates in the dugout with teammates after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino, left, watches the game as relief pitcher David Robertson reacts after Yankees manager Joe Girardi removed him with a Minnesota Twins runner on base and Joe Mauer batting, during the sixth inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino, left, watches the game as relief pitcher David Robertson reacts after Yankees manager Joe Girardi removed him with a Minnesota Twins runner on base and Joe Mauer batting, during the sixth inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge (99) celebrates with Gary Sanchez after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of the American League wild-card baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge (99) celebrates with Gary Sanchez after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of the American League wild-card baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of the American League wild-card baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of the American League wild-card baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge slides past Minnesota Twins third baseman Eduardo Escobar on a single by Gary Sanchez during the seventh inning of the American League wild-card baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge slides past Minnesota Twins third baseman Eduardo Escobar on a single by Gary Sanchez during the seventh inning of the American League wild-card baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Yankees' Didi Gregorius, right, celebrates with Gary Sanchez after hitting a three-run home run during the first inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees' Didi Gregorius, right, celebrates with Gary Sanchez after hitting a three-run home run during the first inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge, left, and Didi Gregorius celebrate at the plate after Judge scored on Gregorius' first-inning, three-run home run in the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge, left, and Didi Gregorius celebrate at the plate after Judge scored on Gregorius' first-inning, three-run home run in the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Minnesota Twins catcher Jason Castro and New York Yankees' Didi Gregorius watch Gregorius' first-inning, three-run home run in the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Minnesota Twins catcher Jason Castro and New York Yankees' Didi Gregorius watch Gregorius' first-inning, three-run home run in the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson reacts after Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was hit by a foul tip of during the sixth inning an American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson reacts after Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was hit by a foul tip of during the sixth inning an American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle celebrates after retiring the Minnesota Twins in order during the seventh inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle celebrates after retiring the Minnesota Twins in order during the seventh inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Minnesota Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario falls at the wall while chasing a two-run home run by New York Yankees' Aaron Judge during the fourth inning of the American League wild-card baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Minnesota Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario falls at the wall while chasing a two-run home run by New York Yankees' Aaron Judge during the fourth inning of the American League wild-card baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Minnesota Twins' Brian Dozier runs the bases after hitting a home run against the New York Yankees during the first inning of the American League wild-card baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Minnesota Twins' Brian Dozier runs the bases after hitting a home run against the New York Yankees during the first inning of the American League wild-card baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton watches his ground ball on which a runner was forced and a run scored during the third inning of the American League wild-card baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton watches his ground ball on which a runner was forced and a run scored during the third inning of the American League wild-card baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ervin Santana waits as New York Yankees' Brett Gardner (11) runs the bases after hitting a home run during the second inning of the American League wild-card baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ervin Santana waits as New York Yankees' Brett Gardner (11) runs the bases after hitting a home run during the second inning of the American League wild-card baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino walks off the field after being removed during the first inning game of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Severino had given up a solo home run and a two-run homer. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino walks off the field after being removed during the first inning game of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Severino had given up a solo home run and a two-run homer. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees' Aaron Hicks, right, pours sparkling wine over Aaron Judge during a locker room celebration after the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-4 in the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, early Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees' Aaron Hicks, right, pours sparkling wine over Aaron Judge during a locker room celebration after the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-4 in the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, early Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
A teammate, right, interviews New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman during a locker room celebration after the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-4 in the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, early Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
A teammate, right, interviews New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman during a locker room celebration after the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-4 in the American League wild-card playoff baseball game in New York, early Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.