So in the Bronx Friday night at Yankee Stadium Game 1 went with the script. Five home runs combined, three from the Twins and two off the Yanlkees bats of Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu as the Yankees piled it on.
The Twins lost another one to the Yankees in October, 10-4, and now they once again have their backs against the wall. They face that must win late Saturday afternoon in the Bronx and hope right- hander Randy Dobnak can even this series before returning home Monday for Game 3 at Target Field.
“I would expect at least a few balls to be hit over the fence at some point,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “But again that’s probably going to be at least part of the story line on a regular basis this series.”
This was the 14th straight playoff loss for the Twins that is a postseason record.
Twins’ starter Jose Berrios, (Bayamon Puerto Rico) the 25-year-old all-time organization leader in wins among Puerto Rican born players made his first postseason start and did not record a decision.
He managed to keep the Yankee home run hitters from hitting the ball out of the park, HIs effort of four shutout innings, four hits, and three runs did not go unnoticed.
“I think he competed well,” Bardelli said. “Kept us in the game and certainly gave us a chance. We didn;t make all the plays behind him. It did make it tough. We had to get some extra outs.”
One extra out was needed in a Yankees three-run third inning. Gleyber Torres reached on a fielder’s choice set up by an error from first baseman C.J. Cron.
But it was more than the error. The Twins bullpen, three rookies, combined to allow seven runs in the middle innings. The trend was set in this first game with home run balls and the bullpens taking control.
And the Minnesota bullpen was one of the best in the second half. Trevor May, Sergio Romo and Tyler Rogers will be available for Game 2 Saturday. Rookies Zack Littell, Cody Stashhak and Kyle Gibson were responsible for the Yankees runs that broke the game open.
However, the Twins have been resilient all season. They have proved to be a good come from behind team though the records show in the best-of-five postseason series teams that won Game 1 have have advanced 72 percent of the time.
“ It’s huge obviously being down,” Romo said. “Coming out tomorrow with another loss with these guys you don’t want to be out in that position. Anything is possible We still have life. it’s going to be interesting to see how we bounce back tomorrow.”
A veteran of 11 years, Romo has been through these situations. He had 10 postseason outings in 2012 with the Giants and converted all four save chances with a 0.84 ERA, earning his second World Series title.
“I do feel there is a good shot if I get an opportunity,” he said. “Today wasn’t the easiest of games. You got to win three. Their one step closer but I like our chances.”
“The long ball definitely played a part today. The bullpens tonight definitely showed how important it will be.”
Six Twins struck out 12, hit a batter, and walked eight Yankees. Giving up an extra out to this Yankees potent lineup will lead to runs and that is something they will try to avoid Saturday.
“But our team as a whole has bounced back exceptionally well all year long.” Baldelli said. “Regardless of what happens the TV’s will be on in the clubhouse, the music will be playing on low to medium volume, and guys will be just getting changed and getting ready for tomorrow.”
And at Yankee Stadium, always a tough venue for an opposing team in October, the Twins will have to use their formula of the home run ball that led Major League Baseball this season.
They have to avoid the Yankees ability to hit the home run ball and in the Bronx. This series has that complexion of home runs and it is expected to be that way at Yankee Stadium and Target Field.
DJ LeMahieu drove in four runs and homered and Brett Gardner added one in the sixth, the first career postseason home runs for LeMahieu and second for Gardner.
“Just come in tomorrow and try to do the same thing,” said Torres who got the go ahead hit in the fifth inning. “That bullpen got really good control in every inning and all my players, my guys do a really good job every at bat.”
Yes, the Yankees got good at bats, timely hitting, the home run ball, and the Twins made a few mistakes. This first game they also had their effective bullpen.
Game 1 was a prelude of a series that could go to a decisive five games culminating at Yankee Stadium next Thursday night.
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