Aaron Judge scalds line drive homer in AL Wild Card Game

There was no chance this matchup could happen, not in early April, not even in early August.

It's a disappointing end to an incredible season, but apart from the outcome, there is nothing to fear about the future of the Minnesota Twins. This was a moment when the Yankees' season was very much on the line, much too early in the Wild Card game. The 858 runs the Yankees scored were second-best in the majors and their run differential (+198) led MLB, as did the 241 home runs deposited over ballpark fences. It took them three games to defeat the Twins in both the 2009 and 2010 ALDS. The Rockies clinched their ticket to the postseason on the final day of the season, holding off the Milwaukee Brewers by one game.

The Yankees turned to Chad Green-the long relief version of Clayton Kershaw-after removing Severino. A lot has changed. That's the best record by one team against a single opponent during that stretch.

Oh my. The league is hitting.205 off the Yankees' pen, by far the lowest opponents' average in the league. Santana carries a 1.13 WHIP with 167 strikeouts over 211 1/3 innings. Three batters would hit a home run in their first appearance in the Wild Card game. "His best month was September, when it mattered most".

Matt Belisle replaced Brandon Kintzler as the Twins' closer after Minnesota sent Kintzler to the Nationals before the July 31 trade deadline. He lasted about 20 minutes. Exactly how he will be used in the postseason - and how rusty he will be - will be interesting to see. Meanwhile, DH Matt Holliday carries a.417 BA against the Twins ace, with two home runs, two doubles, and three RBI.

Led by three-time batting champ and.300 hitter Joe Mauer, the Twins' offense is extremely balanced, featuring four left-handed hitters, three switch hitters and two righties.

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He failed to pounce Saturday, shooting even par after holding a share of the 36-hole lead to fall 5 back of Casey . The American carded a two-under 68 to finish 12 under par and win by one shot from Thomas who finished with a 66.

For Arizona, they were one of the pleasant surprises of the season, after a bad 2016 season. Suddenly, they can really hit. That's ... good for the Yankees?

Brian Dozier opened the game by hitting Severino's fifth pitch into the first row of the left field seats fence, and Eddie Rosario lined the right-hander's 17th pitch into the right field seats for a two-run shot.

Now, after a jaw-dropping 52-homer rookie season, it's Judge's turn to show what he can do in October.

Molitor hadn't decided on Sano's status for the game, although he was optimistic that the slugger would play. Gary Sanchez (.876 OPS, 33 HRs, 90 RBIs), Brett Gardner (.778 OPS, 21 HRs, 63 RBIs, 23 SBs) and Didi Gregorius (.796 OPS, 25 HRs, 87 RBIs) also highlight the offense. Santana finished his 2017 campaign with a 3.28 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and a record of 16-8. Until they did it against the Twins on Tuesday night, in a game they finally ended up winning 8-4, and winning themselves a trip to Cleveland in the process. I saw it in Spring Training. He has played a lot better compared to how he played a year ago when he did play at third. Their outfield defense is especially good.

Buxton, a Gold Glove Award contender in center, matched those efforts in the second inning Tuesday. And now, Buxton is a risky offensive player. The Yankees are sending Luis Severino to the mound. As good as Cleveland was at the plate, they were even better on the mound with the top ranked pitching staff posting a 3.30 ERA to make this team unsafe from top to bottom. Once the Yankees take the ball from Luis Severino, they'll hand the ball to several pitchers that have been lights out of late. That goal, however, hinges on one game.

Prediction: Yankees in one.


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