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Game Three Perspectives

Let’s start with an overview, after the game ended…

In the end, the Yankees made easy work of the Minnesota Twins. Last night’s game was hard fought, the Twins kept battling and the Yankees struggled to put them away, but when the big spots came, the Yankees were able to produce and the Twins couldn’t. Luis Severino looked like he was about to implode a few times, but he gathered himself and pitched an extremely impressive game. He battled and battled. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he got the big outs when he needed to. I was impressed that he seemed to “stay within himself” and that he took his time, especially in the big spots. A few years ago, Severino was overwhelmed by the big moment. That was not the case last night. A lesser pitcher or performer could have easily allowed that game to get away from him. Severino proved to all that he is a battler, a high quality pitcher, and an ace. It may not have been his prettiest or most dominating performance, but last night might have been Luis Severino’s best performance of his career.

What follows are my thoughts as the game played out:

I feel cautiously optimistic, but I sure hope the Yankees win. I do not want a Game Four, and I especially do not want a Game Five. I hope the Yanks put the Twins away and get out of town and on to the ALCS.

With the Astros losing, they’ll now have to battle through a Game Four, using their ace, Justin Verlander. That can only help the Yankees if they meet in the ALCS (assuming the Yankees don’t burn through all of their pitchers to win one more game).

I did not listen to the TV announcers. I put up with the TV delay (about ten seconds behind the radio action) to hear the excitement that comes from the Yankees radio announcers.

Watching the end of the Fox pre-game with a bunch of former baseball all-stars standing around in suits (without any sound) made for an interesting experience. Watching David Ortiz circling the imaginary bases with a stuffed parrot on his shoulder was… different. The whole thing looked very awkward.

The Yankees got a break in the first inning with the catcher’s interference on the Aaron Judge fly out. For a moment, it looked like they would go down very quietly (which I thought would help the Twins), but then there was the catcher’s interference followed by a great at bat (even though he struck out) by Brett Gardner. Gardy saw nine pitches in his at bat. That was huge as it made Jake Odorizzi, the Twins starter, work very hard to get through the first frame.

Luis Severino looked way too excited to start the bottom of the inning. He was wild early which seemed like it would be a problem. A double play with one out (a walk) on Nelson Cruz up helped to set the tone for the night. That double play allowed Severino to escape an inning where he was struggling. It took Severino seven pitches to retire Jorge Polanco after he walked the lead-off batter. That double play allowed the game to slow down, just a bit, for the Yankees’ pitcher.

I had been saying that Giancarlo Stanton looked like a different hitter this series (even without the results), but in his first at bat, he looked more like the Stanton of 2018 not seeming to have a game plan as he batted.

Gleyber Torres’ home run was huge. The Yankees were not off too a great start and then, BOOM!, it’s 1-0. Before that hit, it looked like Jake Odorizzi might have a really great start in him.

As a dugout shot came across the TV, I have this sense that I hope the Yankees bring back this entire squad in 2020. Yes, including Edwin Encarnacion and Didi Gregorius. I really like this team and all the personalities. I’d love to see this squad together again seeing how far they can go as a unit. I’d love for them to add more starting pitching (Gerrit Cole) to really solidify the squad. Maybe get Mad Bum too. Why not? Otherwise, I hope this squad, as a complete unit, returns.

Ok, if Mookie Betts is really available, get him too.

As noted in the introduction, this was not Luis Severino’s greatest game in some senses, but he might never have pitched better than in the bottom of the second inning when he escaped a bases loaded, no outs, situation by getting a pop out to the pitcher’s mound followed by two strikeouts. He found a way to dig deep. He didn’t rush. He tried to be precise and make the right pitches. He battled. He did not let the moment defeat him. That half inning might really define the rest of his career. He came up huge at a spot when he could have crumbled. I am very impressed by Severino’s maturity.

The fact that the Yankees scored a two-out run (on a Brett Gardner single to left field that scored Gio Urshela) right after the Twins failed to score with the bases loaded and no outs had to be demoralizing to the Twins – a team that continues to lose game-after-game to the Yankees in the post season. That, to me, was a gigantic hit in the game.

Two hours into the game and it is only the fourth inning. These 8:35 p.m. starts are killers. KILLERS. I love the Yankees, but long games like this on work nights are just not good for me. It’s already past my bedtime. And it’s only the fourth inning!

I would have lifted Luis Severino after the third inning, but Aaron Boone left him in and he had an easy fourth.

The Yankees defense was tremendous. Gary Sanchez looks so good behind the plate. He has really stepped up his game. He helped calm Severino and he caught a lot of pitches that were missing spots. (Later Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, and Didi Gregorius made excellent defensive plays.) This is a complete team.

Tommy Kahnle came in for the fifth inning and didn’t look sharp. I, too, would have removed him for Adam Ottavino, but… No! Not Again!… I would definitely have allowed Ottavino to face more than one batter. The Yankees used three pitchers (as Chad Green entered the game) to get through the fifth inning. The Yankees have great bullpen depth only if they don’t use all of their pitchers in one inning. YIKES!

This is a very stressful game. It seems like the Twins are ready, at any moment, to break out. I’m glad the Yankees are winning, but… I’d much prefer a blow out. Make this easy Yankees, and get 15 runs… If the Yanks win, I’ll enjoy this game on replay one day, but not in the moment right now.

Chad Green came up big to help bridge the gap created by using too many relief pitchers in the fifth inning.

Gleyber Torres led off the top of the seventh with a double, but Gary Sanchez failed to move him to third base. This, again, looked like a big moment. The game was only 2-0 at that point. Failing to move the runner to third looked like it could have big implications. But Didi Gregorius singled home Torres. Three runs feels a lot better than two.

It seemed every inning, John Sterling was saying, “The Twins have the tying runners on (or at bat).” Because they did!

I was hoping for a Gio Urshela homer to make the game 5-0 so I could go to sleep. I love the Yankees, but there is this responsibility I have during the day…. work, and all that. I need sleep.

At 11:30 p.m. I decided that the DVR was invented for nights like this. It was too late, there was too much game left to play, I needed to head to bed. I rationalized that if the Yankees blew the lead, I wouldn’t want to see it anyway. Also, if they lost I wouldn’t be able to sleep – and if they won, the same might happen. I went to bed and closed my eyes…

I figured I’d be up a moment later, but I didn’t awake until 2:30 to check my phone – a text from Ethan saying the Yankees won… and the SSTN Quick Hit also told the story! It seemed those came just before 1:00 a.m. That’s just crazy. Baseball needs to start these playoff games earlier.

I’ll watch the end of the game on the DVR tonight.

For the next few days I’ll root for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Houston Astros scare me…

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