2019 American League Division Series 2
|2019 American League Division Series|
|New York Yankees
103 - 59 in the AL
|3 - 0
101 - 61 in the AL
The Second American League Division Series of 2019 featured the two best home run-hitting teams in baseball history up to that point: the Minnesota Twins had shattered the previous record by banging out 307 homers during the season, while the !New York Yankees had almost matched them, finishing with 306. There was a significant, but completely one-sided history of match-ups between the two teams kn the postseason, as the Yankees had won every series they had played, the most recent having been the 2017 American League Wild Card Game. The Yankees were the favorites heading into the confrontation, thanks to that history of dominance and their greater postseason experience, even though both teams had won over 100 games during the season.
- Manny Gonzalez, Todd Tichenor, Gary Cederstrom (crew chief), Lance Barksdale, Eric Cooper, Adrian Johnson
Sadly, Cooper would pass away a little over a week after the series ended, on October 20th, aged 52.
|1||Minnesota Twins 4 New York Yankees 10||October 4||Jose Berrios (0-0) James Paxton (0-0)||7:07 pm|
|2||Minnesota Twins 2 New York Yankees 8||October 5||Randy Dobnak (0-1) Masahiro Tanaka (1-0)||5:07 pm|
|3||New York Yankees 5 Minnesota Twins 1||October 7||Luis Severino (0-0) Jake Odorizzi (0-1)||8:40 pm|
Game 1 @ New Yankee Stadium
|WP: Tommy Kahnle (1-0); LP: Zack Littell (0-1)|
|Home Runs: MIN - Jorge Polanco (1), Nelson Cruz (1), Miguel Sano (1); NY - D.J. LeMahieu (1), Brett Gardner (1)|
- Attendance: 49,233
Game 1 lived up to expectations as it featured plenty of runs and homers - and a Yankees victory at home in the end. James Paxton was making his postseason debut for the Yankees, while Jose Berrios was making his first start for Minnesota, having previously pitched in the Wild Card Game against those same Yankees two years earlier. The Twins got off to an early lead when the second batter of the game, Jorge Polanco, took Paxton deep even though Paxton got all three outs on strikeouts. The Yankees put pressure on Berrios in the bottom half of the frame as Aaron Judge drew a one-out walk, then went to third on Edwin Encarnacion's double with two outs. Giancarlo Stanton then hit a ground ball to Miguel Sano at 3B, but was just beaten to the bag by the throw, a call upheld after a video review. In the 2nd, Marwin Gonzalez doubled with one out and C.J. Cron reached on an error by 1B D.J. LeMahieu but Luis Arraez ended the threat by grounding into a double play. The Twins doubled their lead in the 3rd on another homer, that one by Nelson Cruz.
The 2-0 lead hardly lasted, however, as in the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees went ahead for the first time. LeMahieu and Judge got the inning started with two singles. After one out, Encarnacion doubled in a first run, then Stanton walked to load the bases. Gleyber Torres then hit what could have been an inning-ending double play grounder to Sano, but 2B Arraez's throw to first base was not caught by Cron, who was charged with an error, and two runs scored on the play, to make the score 3-2. After a rare scoreless inning in the 4th, the Twins tied the game in the 5th when Arraez doubled with one out and after a long battle with Paxton, Polanco drove him home with a two-out single to left. That was the end of Paxton's night as he gave way to Adam Ottavino, the first of six relievers for New York. Polanco stole second and Cruz drew a walk, but Tommy Kahnle then came in and got Eddie Rosario to fly out to end the inning.
The score was now 3-3, but the Yankees would dominate the rest of the game. Zack Littell came in to pitch the 5th and immediately walked Judge then plunked Brett Gardner with a pitch. Tyler Duffey was asked to clean up the budding mess and while he struck out Encarnacion, he also walked Stanton to load the bases, and Torres then hit a double that deflected off Sano at third base and scored two runs. Duffey struck out the next two batters, but the Yankees had a 5-3 lead. The Twins cut it back to 5-4 in the top of the 6th on Sano's lead-off homer against Kahnle, but in the bottom of the frame, Cody Stashak was unable to keep it close as he gave up solo homers to LeMahieu and Gardner. Zack Britton pitched a scoreless 7th for New York but Kyle Gibson could not imitate him for the Twins: he walked Stanton who was replaced by pinch-runner Cameron Maybin who immediately stole second. He issued another free pass to Torres and when Gary Sanchez struck out, the runners pulled off a double steal. Gibson now walked Didi Gregorius and managed to get Gio Urshela to fly out to shallow center, but LeMahieu cleared the bases with a double to left. It was now 10-4, and the game was basically over. J.A. Happ worked the 8th and Aroldis Chapman the 9th, and neither veteran allowed a run as the score stood until the end of the game. It was New York's 11th straight postseason win over Minnesota, a team record.
Game 2 @ New Yankee Stadium
|WP: Masahiro Tanaka (1-0); LP: Randy Dobnak (0-1)|
|Home Runs: NY - Didi Gregorius (1)|
- Attendance: 49,277
A lot was written about the contrast of starting pitchers before Game 2, particularly about the unlikely story of the Twins' Randy Dobnak who had been undrafted out of college, as recently as this past spring training was working a side gig as a driver for Uber to make ends meet, and who had just been married a few days ago, having scheduled the date when he had no inkling he'd be pitching in the majors, let alone in the postseason, by then. In contrast, the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka was a veteran of the sport's biggest stages in both Japan and the United States. The difference in experience level was clearly put on display. Both pitchers experienced some 1st-inning hiccups, but Tanaka stayed calm and induced Eddie Rosario to ground into an inning-ending double play with two on, whereas Dobnak was unable to escape without giving up a run: he allowed a lead-off double to D.J. LeMahieu then walked Aaron Judge; he managed to get Brett Gardner to fly out to center, but that advanced LeMahieu to third and he scored the first run when Edwin Encarnacion lined a pitch just above the reach of SS Jorge Polanco and into left field. Giancarlo Stanton then hit into a 5-4-3 double play, but the Yankees were already taking control. The Twins then went down in order in the 2nd, but the Yankees again made Dobnak work hard as Didi Gregorius and Gio Urshela hit back-to-back singles with two outs before LeMahieu grounded to short.
The game was decided in the 3rd inning. Once again, the Twins went down in order, then the Yankees got going with a single by Judge and a walk to Gardner. Encarnacion loaded the bases with another hard single to left, and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli decided to remove his young pitcher, bringing in Tyler Duffey. Stanton greeted him by lifting a ball to deep center for a sacrifice fly and a 2-0 lead, then Gleyber Torres singled to drive in another run. Duffey loaded the bases again when he hit Gary Sanchez with a pitch and Gregorius ended whatever suspense remained by driving a ball to deep to the second deck in right field for a grand slam. The score was now 7-0, and it was all she wrote. The Yankees added an 8th run against Devin Smeltzer before the inning was over, but the remainder of the game was just the two teams going through the motions as the issue was settled.
The Twins scored a couple of runs, one in the 4th when Mitch Garver drove in Nelson Cruz with a single, and another with 2 outs in the 9th on a double by Luis Arraez off Jonathan Loaisiga, but they never threatened the Yankees' big lead. Tanaka left after pitching the first 5 innings and four relievers pitched an inning each, while Smetzer had an extended outing of 3 1/3 innings for Minnesota before four relievers pitched the final two frames. The Yankees were in complete control as the series moved to Minnesota.
Game 3 @ Target Field
|WP: Chad Green (1-0); LP: Jake Odorizzi (0-1); SV: Aroldis Chapman (1)|
|Home Runs: NY - Gleyber Torres (1), Cameron Maybin (1); MIN - Eddie Rosario (1)|
- Attendance: 41,121
The Yankees completed their sweep of the Twins with another win in Game 3, this time by a 5-1 score. The Yankees gave the ball to Luis Severino, who had missed most of the season, making only 3 September starts and pitching 12 innings. So he was not expected to go deep in this game. In contrast Jake Odorizzi had been a solid if unspectacular starter for the Twins and the hope was that he could keep the game close until the Twins were able to attack the Yankees' middle relief. That plan did not really work, however, as the Yankees took an early lead and the Twins were never able to close the gap.
After a tame 1st inning, the Yankees struck the first blow when Gleyber Torres homered off Odorizzi with one out in the 2nd. The Twins then had a chance to close that gap immediately, when their first three batters reached base against Severino in the bottom of the inning: Eddie Rosario doubled, Mitch Garver walked and Luis Arraez singled. Severino was in the ropes, but Miguel Sano popped up, and Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave both struck out to end that threat. It was a huge blow to the Twins' morale. The Yankees then showed that scoring runs was not that hard, as Gio Urshela led the 3rd with a double, went to third on a ground ball and scored on a single by Brett Gardner. A 2-0 lead now seemed huge, especially after Minnesota stranded two more runners in the 3rd.
Severino left after 4 scoreless innings, being replaced by Tommy Kahnle. He put two more runners on base, but Chad Green bailed him out by getting Eddie Rosario to ground out. Taylor Rogers took over for Odorizzi in the 6th and kept things close with a 1-2-3 inning, but that did not address the Twins' main problem: the inability to put any runs on the board. In the bottom of the inning, it was Arraez who reached scoring position with a one-out double, but he too was stranded. Meanwhile, the Yankees were still trying to add to their lead, and they managed a third run in the 7th when Torres doubled and scored on a single by Gregorius. And then, it was C.J. Cron's turn to be stranded on base, reaching third but not being able to move the last 90 feet. The Twins finally got on the board in the 8th, but it was on a solo homer by Rosario off Zack Britton, and not the result of a successful rally. Now within two runs of the Yankees, the Twins saw Aroldis Chapman come into the game early and retire both batters he faced. Then, to show how impudent the Twins had been to think they could come back, the Yankees punished them with two more runs in the top of the 9th, on a homer by Cameron Maybin, another double by Torres, a stolen base and a single by Gregorius. Chapman put the first two men on in the bottom of the 9th, but he was merely toying with the Twins, or so it seemed. He then struck out Max Kepler, got Jorge Polanco to line out on a diving catch by Gregorius at shortstop, one of many fine defensive plays by New York on the night, and struck out Nelson Cruz to end the series. The Yankees had now beaten the Twins 13 straight times in the postseason and were moving on the Championship Series.
- David Adler: "Think Twins can't beat Yanks? Not so fast", mlb.com, September 3, 2019. 
- Associated Press: "Yanks, Twins epitome of baseball's 3 True Outcomes", USA Today, October 4, 2019. 
- Bryan Hoch: "Yanks punch ALCS ticket with sweep of Twins", mlb.com, October 8, 2019. 
|Major League Baseball American League Division Series