Yankees power past Twins
Judge hits one of New York’s three homers in 8-4 win
NEW YORK — Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and a brilliant bullpen rescued the New York Yankees from a rugged start and lifted the team to its first postseason win in five years.
Gregorius’ three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning tied the score after Minnesota chased Luis Severino in the top half, Judge showed perhaps his most emotion this season when he hit a two-run shot in his postseason debut and the Yankees beat the Twins 8-4 on Tuesday in the American League wild-card game.
Brett Gardner also homered for New York, which sent Ervin Santana out of the game after two innings and once again knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs.
New York will face the AL Central champion Cleveland Indians in a division series that begins Thursday.
“We’re not done yet,” Judge said.
Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman combined for 8 2/3 innings of one-run, five-hit relief for New York.
“It was just remarkable,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Robertson got the win, leaving after 3 1/3 innings and 52 pitches — both career highs.
The Twins lost their 13th consecutive postseason game, tying the record set by the Boston Red Sox from 1986 to 1995. New York knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs for the fifth time since 2003.
The Twins’ Brian Dozier led off the game with a home run and Eddie Rosario hit a two-run drive later in the first.
Santana, however, was little better than Severino, going to full counts on eight of 11 batters. Gregorius erased the lead four batters into the bottom of the first, and Santana was removed after six outs with Minnesota trailing 4-3.
“You can sit here and try to imagine if it was 0-0 after the first what it would have felt like compared to scoring three and giving three back,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor. “It’s the exhilaration of jumping out … and then the deflation of giving it back so quickly.”
Judge and Gardner each finished 2-for-4 with three runs.
Judge, the 6-foot-7 sensation who set a rookie record with 52 home runs in the regular season, was given a Ruthian ovation, with several sections of fans holding signs in his honor spelling out “All Rise!”
Judge shouted in excitement, his face flush with emotion, as he rounded first base after his homer off losing pitcher Jose Berrios.
“This place was rocking. It was incredible,” Judge said.
Minnesota’s Miguel Sano was left off the wild-card roster after failing to recover fully from an injured left shin.
“When he tried to take his swings, it was just too prohibitive as far as not being able to use his front leg as a bracing leg,” Molitor said. “It was emotional for him because I know he wants to play.”