AL wild-card game

MLB Playoffs: Yankees rally to beat Twins in AL wild-card game

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MLB Playoffs: Yankees rally to beat Twins in AL wild-card game

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NEW YORK -- Minutes into the playoff debut for these young New York Yankees, they trailed Minnesota by three runs. Their starting pitcher lasted just one out. A sellout crowd was stunned.

Could their postseason be over almost before it began?

Nope. A strange AL wild-card game was only just beginning.

"We've had a quite a few games where we've gotten down early," Aaron Judge said. "Just keep battling. Just stay calm. Just play your game, and good things will happen."

Judge, Didi Gregorius and a brilliant bullpen rescued New York and lifted the Yankees to their first postseason victory in five years.

Gregorius' three-run homer tied the score in the first inning after Minnesota knocked out Luis Severino, a pumped-up Judge showed his most emotion this season when he hit a two-run shot in his playoff debut and the Yankees beat the Twins 8-4 Tuesday night. New York plays the Indians in a best-of-five Division Series starting Thursday.

"We're not done yet," Judge said. "We've just got to keep it rolling in Cleveland."

Brett Gardner also homered for the Yankees, who chased Ervin Santana after two innings and once again eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs.

Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman combined for 8 2/3 innings of one-run, five-hit relief, striking out 13 to tie the postseason record for a bullpen.

"It was just remarkable," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Twins manager Paul Molitor marveled at the Yankees relievers and Girardi's use of them over 142 pitches.

"He extended some guys probably past their comfort zone," the Hall of Famer said. "They still performed."

Brian Dozier led off the game with a home run and Eddie Rosario hit a two-run drive as the Twins burst to a quick lead.

But Santana went to full counts on eight of 11 batters, and he was removed after six outs and 64 pitches with the Twins trailing 4-3.

"It's the exhilaration of jumping out," Molitor said, "and then the deflation of giving it back so quickly."

Minnesota, the first team to follow a 100-loss season with a playoff appearance, lost its 13th consecutive postseason game, tying the record set by Boston from 1986-95. The Twins have been eliminated by the Yankees in five of their last six postseason appearances and have not won a playoff series since 2002.

"Nobody expected us to be here," Byron Buxton said. "That's an amazing achievement."

New York won nine regular-season games after trailing by three runs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau -- including when Severino fell behind against the Twins on Sept. 20 as New York rebounded to complete a series sweep. Gregorius erased the deficit in this one four batters into the bottom of the first.

"I was hyped, and I tried to get the game going, tried to get the guys going," he said.

Judge, the 6-foot-7 sensation who set a rookie record with 52 home runs, was given a Ruthian ovation, with several sections of fans holding signs in his honor spelling out "All Rise!" He scored three runs, hitting a single to help ignite the first-inning rally, smoking a 108 mph home run off loser Jose Berrios in the fourth and walking in the seventh before coming home when Alan Busenitz walked Aaron Hicks with the bases loaded.

Judge shouted in excitement as he rounded first base after the homer, his face flush with emotion.

"This place was rocking. It was incredible," he said.

New York had made only one postseason appearance since 2012, losing the 2015 wild-card game to Houston 3-0. Just three Yankees who started that game were in the starting lineup, part of a Baby Bombers movement that purged the roster of veterans.

At 23, Severino was the youngest Yankees postseason starter since Andy Pettitte in 1995. The right-hander lasted only 29 pitches on a crisp autumn night and matched the Yankees' shortest postseason start, by Bob Turley in Game 2 of the 1958 World Series and Art Ditmar in the 1960 World Series opener.

Severino was shaking his head as walked to the dugout and Green replaced him with runners at second and third. Green struck out Buxton and Jason Castro , then fanned three in a row in the second.

"I think we're all ready to be in from the first to the ninth," Green said.

Robertson came in with the bases loaded in the third and allowed Buxton's RBI grounder , then struck out Castro.

Robertson tired in the sixth but earned the win, leaving after 52 pitches and 3 1/3 innings. His only longer professional outing was 3 2/3 innings for Double-A Trenton in April 2008.

Kahnle relieved with a runner on and retired Joe Mauer on a flyout to the warning track . After Kahnle threw 2 1/3 perfect innings , Chapman struck out three around a hit in the ninth.

A pitcher named Santana -- Johan Santana -- beat the Yankees for the Twins' last postseason win in 2004. But Ervin Santana's career postseason ERA climbed to 6.57, contributing to a first inning that lasted 45 minutes and three innings that took 1:43.

Gardner walked leading off, Judge poked a single to center and Gregorius lined a fastball over the right-field scoreboard. Brushed off the plate by a 2-2 pitch in the second, Gardner sent Santana's next offering into the second deck in right for a 4-3 lead.

Green struck out the side in the second, but left in the third after a leadoff single and two walks loaded the bases. Buxton hit into a run-scoring forceout before Robertson struck out Castro, and the Yankees went ahead for good in the bottom half when Gary Sanchez doubled off Berrios leading off and scored on Greg Bird's two-out single.

'"'I think we can win it all," Todd Frazier said after a draining game that took 3:51. "If we just keep doing what we've been doing, like we did today, sky's the limit."

Up next
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (13-12) is likely to start Thursday for the Yankees against the Indians and Trevor Bauer (17-9).

MLB Playoffs: Edwin Encarnacion's HR gives Blue Jays wild win in 11

MLB Playoffs: Edwin Encarnacion's HR gives Blue Jays wild win in 11

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TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion advanced Toronto to the AL Division Series in the Blue Jays' familiar manner -- with a big home run.

Encarnacion hit a three-run drive in the 11th inning off Ubaldo Jimenez , and Toronto beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 in Tuesday night's AL wild card game to advance to a Division Series matchup against old foe Texas.

"It was a very special moment and a very special opportunity," Encarnacion said through a translator.

Jose Bautista also homered for the Blue Jays , who open the Division Series on Tuesday at Texas. Encarnacion's homer brought back memories of the tiebreaking, three-run shot that Bautista hit in the seventh inning of Game 5 of last year's AL Division Series win over the Rangers, a shot punctuated by a memorable bat flip.

And the Blue Jays won their last World Series title in 1993 on Joe Carter's walkoff home run .

"I was looking for a fastball and I was trying to put the barrel on it, get a little bit in front because the infield was playing in, and I actually got it," Encarnacion said through a translator.

Jimenez relieved Brian Duensing with one out in the 11th, and Devon Travis singled in a 1-1 pitch. Reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson singled on the next pitch, and Travis went all the way to third as left fielder Nolan Reimold bobbled the ball.

Encarnacion sent the following pitch, a 91 mph offering, soaring into the second deck in left. Encarnacion immediately knew it was gone and raised both arms in triumph, index fingers pointed skyward.

The crowd of 49,934 chanted "Eddie, Eddie!" as Encarnacion circled the bases before being greeted by a mob of teammates. Encarnacion matched his career-best with 42 home runs in the regular season.

Jimenez said he was trying to throw a low slider and induce a double play.

"It didn't do anything," Jimenez said. "It stayed up."

Orioles closer Zach Britton, who was perfect in 47 save chances during the regular season, never got in the game.

"Nobody has been pitching better for us than Ubaldo," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said . "It didn't work out."

Britton warmed up three times but didn't leave the bullpen.

"It's frustrating but it's not my call," Britton said. "It was just frustrating to have to sit there and watch."

Francisco Liriano retired five straight batters on four groundouts and a strikeout for the win after closer Roberto Osuna left with a sore shoulder .

"The doctor told me that I was going to be fine, I just need a couple of days," Osuna said. "I've been pitching a lot lately. They think it's just fatigue from the last couple of weeks."

Toronto beat Texas in five-game Division Series, sparked by Bautista's memorable homer. The teams brawled in May this year when Bautista was punched in the face by Rangers infielder Rougned Odor following a play at second base.

"It's going to be a very interesting series, and we're looking forward to it," Encarnacion said.

The roof was open at Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome, where all 24 previous postseason games had been played with it closed.

Bautista led off the second against Chris Tillman with his fifth postseason homer. Mark Trumbo, who led the major leagues with 47 home runs, gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run homer off Marcus Stroman .

Ezequiel Carrera's RBI single chased Tillman in the fifth.

When Toronto pinch-hitter Melvin Upton Jr. flied out to the warning track in left field to end the seventh, Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim was nearly struck by a can that was thrown from the stands. Center fielder Adam Jones angrily gestured toward the seats, and Showalter came out to register his displeasure with the umpires.

"It's tough when you have that many people in the ballpark and one person does something that reflects poorly on all of them," Showalter said. "It can happen in any ballpark. I don't like anything that puts our guys in harm's way.

Blue Jays fans tossed bottles and debris on the field during game 5 against Texas last year, upset at the call that let Odor score from third after catcher Russell Martin's throw back to the mound deflected off Shin Soo Choo's bat.

Jones wasn't as diplomatic as his manager.

"That is about as pathetic as it gets," he said. "I hope they find the guy and press charges."

For starters
Stroman allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, struck out six and walked none. Tillman gave up two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Web gem
Kevin Pillar made a diving catch on Manny Machado's liner to right-center in the fourth .

Extra, extra!
This was the second extra-inning wild card game. Kansas City rallied to beat Oakland 9-8 in 12 innings in 2014.

Robbie
Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, who starred for the Blue Jays and Orioles, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.