Bullpen Does Its Job As New York Yankees Win Potential Wild Card Preview
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by teammate Gary Sanchez #24 after hitting a solo homerun in the bottom of the first inning against the Minnesota Twins on September 18, 2017 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo By Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees’ bullpen lived up to the hype on Monday night as they shut-down the Minnesota Twins en route to a huge series-opening win. 

  • Minnesota Twins: 1 (78-72)
  • New York Yankees: 2 (83-67)
  • American League, FINAL, Box Score
  • Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY

Monday night’s potential American League Wild Card preview went in favor of the New York Yankees, as they held the Minnesota Twins to just four hits en route to a 2-1 win at Yankee Stadium.

Aaron Judge got the Yankees on the board off Ervin Santana in the bottom of the first with his 44th home of the season. It was not only a solo bomb to put New York up 1-0, but it marked the most homers in a single-season by a Yankee since Alex Rodriguez hit 54 home runs back in 2007.

Yankees’ starter Jaime Garcia was cruising with nine strikeouts through four shutout innings but got into trouble in the fifth after allowing back-to-back singles to Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar to set up runners on first and third. Although Garcia got the next hitter, Jason Castro, to ground into a double play to get out of the jam, Rosario scored on a Robbie Grossman fielder’s choice on the play before to knot it up at one apiece.

Garcia finished the night versus his former team by fanning nine over 5.2 innings of work while allowing one run (unearned) on no walks and just four hits. His strikeout total tied his season-high total set back on June 11 against the New York Mets as a member of the Atlanta Braves.

As the game progressed into the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees’ offense was looking for a rally before heading into the late innings and rally is what they did.

Chase Headley got the party started with a single to centerfield and second baseman Starlin Castro followed with a single of his own. Twins’ manager Paul Molitor opted to intentionally walk Jacoby Ellsbury, which sent Todd Frazier to the dish with one out and the bases loaded.

On a 1-1 count, the 31-year-old lifted a sacrifice fly to centerfield deep enough for Headley to score and put New York back on top by a score of 2-1.

On the other side of the ball, David Roberston relieved Garcia in the sixth and registered a scoreless 1.1 innings of work with two strikeouts to hand the ball to Dellin Betances in the eighth. The three-time All-Star wasn’t sharp by any means, as he hit Robbie Grossman with a pitch, walked Max Kepler and walked Brian Dozier to load the bases with just one out.

Cautious thanks to the sticky situation, manager Joe Girardi called upon closer Aroldis Chapman to pick up a five-out save against the Twins.

In what was the biggest situation of the year for Chapman, the flamethrower needed just four pitches to escape the bases-loaded jam. He struck out Joe Mauer on three pitches including a 102.7 MPH fastball to send him down before getting Byron Buxton to fly out to right field.

Chapman followed up a shut-down eighth with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including a final-out strikeout of Eduardo Escobar, slamming the door shut on what is the 83rd win of the season for the Yankees. They now have a commanding five-game lead over the Twins for the first Wild Card spot.

AL Beware:

After hitting a home run in the bottom of the first inning, Judge now has hit a home run against 14 of the 15 American League teams. Entering today, the Twins and Kansas City Royals were the only opponents that the rookie did not go yard against. The latter now sits alone.

This Day In Yankees’ History:

On Sept. 18, 1956, Mickey Mantle hits his 50th home run of the season in the 11th inning at Comiskey Park to give the Yankees a 3-2 win over the White Sox.

What’s Next: 

The Yankees and Twins will square off in Game 2 of this potential AL Wild Card preview on Tuesday night from Yankee Stadium.

Going for New York will be veteran left-hander CC Sabathia, who will make his 25th start of the season. He needs just one strikeout to tie Mickey Lolich (2,832) for 18th place on Baseball’s all-time strikeout list and is starting on an extended seven days rest in order to avoid taking the hill on the Rogers Centre turd next weekend.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET from the Bronx and can be caught on the YES Network or ESPN (out of market only).