Minnesota Twins

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).

Best of MLB: Twins, Cubs clinch postseason berths

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Best of MLB: Twins, Cubs clinch postseason berths

CLEVELAND -- The Minnesota Twins became the first team to make the playoffs after losing at least 100 games the previous season, clinching an AL wild-card berth on Wednesday when the Los Angeles Angels lost 6-4 in 10 innings at Chicago.

The Twins couldn't secure their first spot in the postseason by themselves, losing 4-2 to the Indians, but that hardly mattered for a team that has overcome adversity and defied expectations while joining October's elite.

They won only 59 games a year ago, and it seemed as if the young Twins would be lucky to be competitive when the season began. But they got hot in August and haven't looked back in becoming the 13th team -- and first since the 2009 Seattle Mariners -- to go from 100-plus losses to a winning record the following season.

Nearly two hours after losing, the Twins began a celebration that seemed unimaginable two months ago.

Minnesota will play at either Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park in the wild-card game Tuesday night. Boston holds a three-game lead over New York in the AL East race (see full recap).

Cubs clinch 2nd straight NL central title
ST. LOUIS, Missouri -- Addison Russell hit a three-run homer and John Lackey pitched six strong innings as the Chicago Cubs clinched their second consecutive National League Central title with a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

The Cubs reached the postseason for the third straight year for the first time since 1908. They are also the first defending World Series champion to win their division the next season since the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies and the first defending champion to reach the playoffs the next season since the Cardinals won the wild card in 2012.

The Cubs became the second visiting team to celebrate a title at Busch Stadium III. The 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers won the NLDS at St. Louis.

Lackey (12-11) retired the final 10 batters he faced. The former Cardinal struck out three and gave up two hits and two walks.

Six Cubs relievers combined for three scoreless innings of relief (see full recap).

Red Sox cut magic number to 2 with victory
BOSTON -- Reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello struggled in his final playoff tuneup, and David Price relieved him to solidify his role on the postseason roster as the Boston Red Sox beat Toronto 10-7 on Wednesday night to lower their magic number to two.

Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts homered in a five-run third inning for Boston after Porcello (11-17) gave up three runs in the first. The Red Sox scored one in the first and three in the second and then took a 9-4 lead in the third to chase Marco Estrada (10-9) and snap a two-game losing streak.

Boston, which is already guaranteed a playoff berth, maintained a three-game lead over the second-place Yankees in the division. They need two more wins or two more New York losses to clinch the first back-to-back AL East titles in franchise history (see full recap).

Diamondbacks rally for walk-off win over Giants
PHOENIX -- David Peralta capped a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning by drawing a one-out, bases-loaded walk, giving the Arizona Diamondbacks a 4-3 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.

J.D. Martinez led off the inning with a solo homer, tying Ralph Kiner's 1949 NL record for home runs in September with 16. Martinez has 45 homers this season, 29 of them with the Diamondbacks, who acquired him in a trade with the Tigers on July 18.

His 36 RBIs this month set an Arizona record, surpassing Luis Gonzalez' 35 in June 2001.

Daniel Descalso jogged home with the winning run in the Diamondbacks' regular-season home finale. Arizona will be back in action at Chase Field next Wednesday in the NL wild card game.

All of the runs were charged to Giants closer Sam Dyson (3-3). J.J. Hoover (3-1) earned the win in relief.

Pablo Sandoval doubled twice and drove in two runs, and Jeff Samardzija threw three-hit ball for six innings for the Giants (see full recap).

Young girl hospitalized by 105-mph foul ball at Yankee Stadium

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Young girl hospitalized by 105-mph foul ball at Yankee Stadium

NEW YORK -- A young girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a 105-mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier during Wednesday's game against Minnesota, leading some players to call for protective netting to be extended.

The Yankees said the girl was taken to a hospital for treatment, and New York manager Joe Girardi said he had been told by team security that she was OK. The game was delayed for about 4 minutes while she was attended to and then carried from the seats in the bottom of the fifth inning.

A shaken Frazier crouched with his hands over his face. The Yankees third baseman then bowed his head, walked away from the plate, crouched again and rested his head on the end of his bat.

"I thought of my kids. I have two kids under 3 years old and I just hope she's all right," said Frazier, who flied out later in the at-bat. "I know the dad or whoever it was that was with them was trying their hardest, but the ball's coming at 120 miles an hour at them and the ball's hooking. So it's like if you've never seen a ball like that, which most people in the world haven't, it's very tough."

Asked whether there should be more netting, Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge said: "We need it."

Twins players also were distressed, and second baseman Brian Dozier and the Yankees' Matt Holliday had tears as they said prayers at second base.

"We've been trying to get these teams to put nets up," Dozier said. "Number one, you don't bring kids down there. And number two, every stadium needs to have nets. That's it. I don't care about the damn view of the fan or what. It's all about safety. I still have a knot in my stomach."

As to what it would take to get nets up, Dozier responded: "The last resort that we don't ever want to have happen. I'm not going to say it, but you know what I'm talking about."

Speaking through a translator, Twins infielder Eduardo Escobar said, "I just saw blood coming out of this little girl." He said perhaps kids under a certain age be prohibited from seats without protection.

Major League Baseball issued recommendations for protecting netting or screens in December 2015, encouraging teams to have it in place between the ends of the dugouts closest to home plate.

"It remains an ongoing discussion in the industry," Commissioner Rob Manfred said at Safeco Field, before Wednesday night's game between Seattle and Texas. "We gave some guidelines two years ago, and what we have done since then is that we have encouraged the individual clubs to engage in a localized process, look at their own stadiums -- every stadium's different -- and to try to make a good decision about how far the netting should go in order to promote fan safety."

"If you look at what's happened, there has been a continuous focus forward movement in terms of increased netting in stadiums around the leagues and I expect that process will continue this offseason," he said.

The Mets extended netting beyond the outfield ends of the dugouts this season after the All-Star break. The Yankees said in an August statement posted on the team's website that they "are seriously exploring extending the netting prior to the 2018 season."

A boy was struck on the head by a portion of Chris Carter's broken bat at Yankee Stadium on May 25, and a fan sitting beyond the first-base dugout was hit by a 105-mph foul ball off the bat of Judge on July 25. That fan had a bloody bandage around his head as he left his seat.

New York City Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr. introduced legislation in May for protective netting to be extended to the ends of both dugouts, and a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.

"No one should ever go to a baseball game and leave severely injured," Espinal said in a statement. "Nor should any player have to feel the guilt associated with injuring a fan, especially when that injury could have been prevented by safety nets."

Frazier and teammate CC Sabathia said their families always sit behind netting or screens.

"I think the netting should be up. I think every stadium should have it, but we're not at that point yet," Frazier said. "Hopefully, they took a look at all this and they figure something out."

Girardi recalled a fan being badly injured while he was catching for the Chicago Cubs and said new ballparks "are more intimate" with "fans closer to home plate."

"I'm for making everything as safe as possible for everyone at the ballpark -- players, too," Girardi said.