Aaron Judge broke open a one-run game with a two-run home run in the fourth inning and the New York Yankees advanced to the American League Division Series with an 8-4 win over the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Yankees will open their ALDS series on Thursday night in Cleveland against the AL Central champion Indians.
It didn’t look like that would be the case when Yankees starter Luis Severino served up two homers and three runs scored while lasting just one out to start Tuesday’s game. Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario homered for the Indians in the top of the first inning, but Didi Gregorius wiped the slate clean with a three-run shot in the bottom of the inning.
Brett Gardner gave the Yankees their first lead of the game with a 393-foot homer in the bottom of the second inning. The Twins quickly tied the score at 4-4 in the top of the third inning, and it had all the makings of a game of bullpen attrition.
And the Yankees proved far better equipped to win that battle Tuesday night.
Greg Bird singled in Gary Sanchez in the bottom half of the inning to put the Yankees ahead, and Judge and New York’s bullpen took over from there.
Judge hit a line drive home run 386 feet to also score Gardner in the fourth inning. Meanwhile, David Robertson was pitching 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief after Severino left to a chorus of boos and Chad Green steadied the ship by allowing one run and striking out four Twins over two innings.
Aaron Hicks walked with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to extend the lead to 8-4. That was all the Yankees could muster out of a bases loaded situation with no outs, but it didn’t matter with New York’s bullpen suffocating the Twins’ bats.
Tommy Kahnle piched 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief before turning the game over to Aroldis Chapman, who struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning.
NOTES: The Twins were the first team in MLB history to reach the postseason one year after posting 100-plus losses. … The Yankees’ bullpen allowed just one earned run and five hits while striking out 13 batters over 8 2/3 innings Tuesday. … Twins slugger Miguel Sano was kept off the wild-card roster with manager Paul Molitor saying the third baseman could not generate enough power with his front leg during batting practice Monday due to the shin injury that caused him to miss more than a month of action before being activated from the disabled list Friday.
UP NEXT: The Indians announced Trevor Bauer will start Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday night (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1), with Corey Kluber taking the mound for Game 2 the following night. The Yankees had not immediately announced their Game 1 starter.