NEW YORK -- In Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Twins on Saturday, the Yankees brought back memories of their dynasty of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Like those teams, the current Yanks were grinding out at-bats in their 8-2 victory at Yankee Stadium. New
NEW YORK -- In Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Twins on Saturday, the Yankees brought back memories of their dynasty of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Like those teams, the current Yanks were grinding out at-bats in their 8-2 victory at Yankee Stadium. New York now has a 2-0 lead in the series.
It was reminiscent of watching Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill all over again. Only, this time, it was Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, et al. showing how patient they can be at the plate. They walked eight times and forced Minnesota pitchers to throw 161 pitches -- 80 in the first three innings alone.
“Our main focus is to try and score as many runs as we can, and treat every inning like it’s 0-0,” Judge said. “That’s what keeps us in the game and keeps us locked in. If we start looking at the score, we kind of slack off a little bit.”
The Yankees faced three pitchers – Randy Dobnak, Tyler Duffey and Devin Smeltzer -- in the third, and there was no slacking off. They faced a combined 12 hitters and saw 35 pitches. Dobnak, who started the inning, couldn’t retire a batter and left with the bases loaded. In came Duffey, who also had problems getting outs.
After Giancarlo Stanton hit a sacrifice fly, Gleyber Torres singled in a run and Gary Sánchez was hit by a pitch on a 1-2 count. Gregorius was also behind in the count, 1-2, when he hit a grand slam to make it a 7-0 game. After Gio Urshela struck out, LeMahieu walked, and that spelled the end for Duffey.
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“Duff has been a guy that's gotten us out of those types of jams all year long, and he's the guy that we turn to in those situations because he's been so good,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “His execution as a whole, I thought was OK. In those particular late-in-the-count-type situations, probably wasn't as good as it normally is, but, again, we're going to go to Duffey in those types of spots consistently. We're going to continue going to him.”
Even Duffey noticed how patient the Yankees were in the third inning.
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“They were really good, especially on breaking balls,” Duffey said. “If you weren’t close to the plate, it didn't seem like they wanted to even think about swinging. Whether or not that was their game plan coming in -- maybe an adjustment they made after they saw Jose Berrios coming at them the way he did.
“It’s something I know all our guys are working hard in the back rooms figuring out what the next step is. This is a game of adjustments, sometimes inning to inning, game to game. It looks like some of us still have to make a couple, myself included.”
After Duffey left the game, in came Smeltzer, and he allowed a single to Judge and then a single to Brett Gardner that scored LeMahieu.
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“This was big, to have the kind of night we had last night and then to follow it up today kind of supporting [winning pitcher Masahiro Tanaka] there, who set the tone for us,” Yanks manager Aaron Boone said. “... Obviously, the huge one from Didi, which was great to see. A great way to start out this series.”
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.