The MLB playoffs are an ongoing battle and these New York Yankees are clearly prepared for the long October haul.
The New York Yankees never stopped in Game 1.
A pretty game it certainly was not. American League MVP candidate DJ LeMahieu dropped an easy popup. A combined 21 walks were issued. Neither James Paxton nor Minnesota Twins righty Jose Berríos lasted five innings.
Moreover, the Yankees went down 2-0 early and the at-bats, though effective, yielded meager results.
But nobody ever lost hope. The runs came with some ups and downs, but the Yankees ultimately pulled through in a 10-4 win featuring home runs from LeMahieu and Brett Gardner.
These weren’t just the Yankees, ladies and gentlemen; these were the infamous “Savages in the Box” who came to play Friday night. Just like Cain Velasquez in his WWE debut earlier in the evening, the Yankees are not messing around this postseason.
That said, this writer has a simple piece of advice. Buckle up.
Grinding out at-bats
Let’s talk about the Twins’ pitching staff as a whole. It ranked ninth in MLB with a staff ERA of 4.18 and fourth with 2.78 BB/9, per Fangraphs. Everyone knew tonight would be a slugfest in some capacity, but the Twins’ arms would surely limit the free passes.
Well, the Yankees had other ideas. Minnesota issued eight walks, including three apiece from Berríos and Kyle Gibson. Minnesota’s arms threw 193 total pitches.
Now, time for math class. Consider me your Mr. Kotter, if you will. The Yankees had 41 total plate appearances in the game. After crunching the numbers, they averaged 4.70 pitches per plate appearance. This includes seven New York plate appearances which featured a full count.
And the results showed. The Bronx Bombers were only 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, but they also extended the inning with two outs three different times.
Long story short, these are the Yankees who needed to show up in Game 1. LeMahieu’s hot bat showed up with yet another three-hit game, including a bases-clearing double which blew the game open in the seventh inning.
Giancarlo Stanton, who infamously struck out chasing a slider in his final at-bat of last year’s ALDS, laid off sliders away not once, but twice. After drawing a particularly clutch walk, he captured the team’s attitude as a whole in tossing his bat down with authority.
Granted, was the bullpen management a bit off? Sure, but it’s the playoffs. All hands are on deck and nobody should be unprepared to pitch outside their usual role.
More importantly, don’t worry about the pitching. Based on Game 1, the Yankees’ bats are locked, loaded and, most importantly, focused.
Now, let’s see more of it in Game 2.