Bullpen dominance and homers by Didi, Gardner, and Judge lead Yanks to 8-4 Wild Card game win

Well, that was a fantastic way to start off the 2017 postseason. The Yankees were down three runs with their best starter out of the game in the FIRST inning, and they didn't even blink. It was one of the most unpredictable games in recent memory, and definitely one of the best.
Brad Penner / USA Today

The game, uh, could’ve started off better. Brian Dozier led off with a leadoff solo shot that JUST made it into the left field stands. After Mauer popped out (nice play by Frazier), Polanco walked and Rosario smashed a two run homer into the short porch in right. Escobar then singled, and Kepler doubled. With that, Severino was done. Just like that. Chad Green came on and struck out Buxton and Castro, but that inning was the definition of “It’s Not What You Want.”

The Yanks came out ready to battle in the bottom of the first, though. Gardner walked, to lead it off, and Judge punched a single into center field. After Gary popped out, Didi smashed a game tying three run blast to make the Stadium explode. It was beautiful. Santana escaped the inning around a walk by Bird, but ladies and gentlemen, we had a new ballgame. 3-3. 
Kathy Willens / AP
Green pitched a clean second inning, striking out two and inducing a flyout from Mauer. We do not deserve him. With one out in the bottom of the second, Todd Frazier blasted a long fly ball to center field. Buxton ran it down and caught it, smashing into the wall in the process. Tip of the cap to him; it was a great play. The next batter, Brett Gardner, blasted a no doubt homer into the second deck in right field. He knew it too. Just like that, the Yanks had a 4-3 lead. We never doubted them.
Kathy Willens / AP
The third inning did not start well either. Polanco led off with a single, and Rosario walked. After Escobar flew out, Kepler walked to load the bases with one out. Girardi then took out Green, and went to David Robertson, who got Buxton to ground to short. Didi and Castro made a good attempt at a double play, but Buxton beat it out and the game was tied at four. Buxton then stole second two pitches later, giving the Twins second and third with two out. Robertson struck out Castro, however, and that sent the game to the bottom of the third. 

Jose Berrios came on to relieve Santana, who, in contrary to his pregame comments, did NOT win his first game at Yankee Stadium. Sanchez smashed a leadoff double, and Didi worked a fantastic at bat before striking out swinging. Castro worked a…less fantastic at bat, striking out on a slider that bounced in the dirt. Greg Bird made up for it though, lining an RBI single to right field to give the Yankees the lead back. 5-4. Aaron Hicks then nubbed a soft grounder past Berrios for an infield single, but Ellsbury fouled out to third to end the inning.

Robertson came back out for the fourth and worked around a Brian Dozier single, inducing a double play ball from Mauer. Shoutout to Bird for his split when catching the throw. Byron Buxton was then replaced in center field by Zack Granite. That collision with the center field wall banged him up badly. With one out in the fourth, Gardner singled, and then Aaron Judge clobbered a two run blast to left field to give the Yanks a 7-4 lead. This game, you guys. Absolute madness. Berrios ended the inning cleanly, but the Yanks had a three run lead. 
Kevin Wexler / NorthJersey.com
DRob came back out again for the top of the fifth, and worked a scoreless inning, striking out two. The Yanks went down in order in the bottom of the inning, and Robertson came back out AGAIN for the sixth. Granite led off with a single, but Castro and Grossman struck out. Girardi then went out to the mound, but chose to leave in DRob. Granite moved to second on a wild pitch, and then after a battle, Dozier walked. Still, what a fantastic job by Robertson. 52 pitches, 3.1 innings, three hits, a walk, and five strikeouts. Tommy Kahnle replaced him to face Mauer, who laced a fly ball down the left field line that Gardner tracked down. That one scared me. No harm done though. 
Kevin Wexler / NorthJersey.com
Trevor Hildenberger came on for the bottom of the sixth, and set the Yanks down in order. Kahnle returned for the top of the seventh, and retired the Twins in order. Hildenberger came back out, and proceeded to walk Judge. Sanchez then ripped a single, and Judge advanced to third. Rosario’s throw sailed all the way to the home plate backstop, allowing Sanchez to reach second. Didi was then intentionally walked, and the bases were loaded with no outs for Castro, who popped out to shallow right field. Molitor then took out Hildenberger, and brought in the lefty Taylor Rogers to face Bird. Bird struck out swinging, and that was it for Rogers, who was replaced with Alan Busenitz, who proceeded to walk Hicks on four pitches. That’s one way to tack on a run. Ellsbury flew out to end the inning, but the Yanks had an 8-4 lead going into the eighth.

Kahnle came back out for the eighth, and one of the strangest plays of the game ensued. With one out, Granite grounded to first. Kahnle covered, but dropped Bird’s toss to him. However, Castro, who was covering as well, picked the ball up and tagged Granite out, because Granite failed to step on first base. It was…interesting. Kahnle struck out pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza to end the inning. 

Twins closer Matt Belisle came on for the eighth and retired the Yanks in order, and then it was time for Chapman. Grossman and Dozier struck out, and Mauer grounded a 3-2 pitch into left field for a single to keep the Twins season alive. However, Polanco struck out, and just like that, the Yankees won. What. A Game. They will play in the ALDS for the first time since 2012, and it feels great. Shoutout to the Yankee bullpen for picking up Severino and winning this. 

Win: David Robertson (3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K)
Loss: Jose Berrios (3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 K)

Notables:
Brett Gardner: 2-4, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB
Aaron Judge: 2-4, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB
Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 2B, R
Didi Gregorius: 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB
Chad Green: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K
Tommy Kahnle: 2.1 IP, 0 R, 1 K

Article by: Alex Weir

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