The Yankees didn’t just use majestic home runs to bounce the Twins from the postseason this time.
Aaron Boone’s squad did the little things well, too.
Aaron Judge, the 6-7 right fielder known for his menacing bat, made two diving catches in Game 1 and reached up to make a running grab of Miguel Sano’s line drive in the sixth inning Monday.
Gleyber Torres, 22, had a big series at the plate, going 5-for-12 with three doubles, a home run and four RBI. The two-time All-Star second baseman also made the defensive play of Game 3, robbing Eddie Rosario of a run-scoring hit in the fifth inning.
“He continued to show the world just how good of a player he is on both sides of the ball,” Boone said, as his players sprayed beer and champagne in the clubhouse.
Luis Severino displayed none of the nerves that plagued him in the 2017 wild-card game, when he recorded just one out before the Twins jumped on him for three runs.
Severino, 25, missed the Yankees’ first 151 games this season because of rotator cuff inflammation, but the team carefully plotted his return. He made three starts down the stretch, then held the Twins scoreless over four stressful innings in Monday’s clincher.
After Torres homered in the second inning, putting the Yankees ahead, the Twins loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the frame, setting the stage for the biggest sequence of Game 3. With Severino mixing 97-miles-per- hour fastballs and 86-mph sliders, Miguel Sano popped out, Marwin Gonzalez whiffed, and Jake Cave took a called third strike, leaving Minnesota empty-handed.
“I think that situation set the tone for the rest of the game,” Severino said. “I think that was the chance for the Twins to score. I threw good pitches.”
Severino also fanned Mitch Garver with two runners aboard to end the third inning.
And it seems no Twins/Yankees meeting would be complete without a Didi Gregorious moment. The Yankees shortstop hit the backbreaking grand slam in Game 2 and delivered two RBI singles in Game 3. The shortstop added a diving catch of Jorge Polanco’s ninth-inning line drive for good measure.
Gregorious batted .238 this season, with a lowly .276 on-base percentage, but he went 8-for-10 with 10 RBI against the Twins.
In this series, he reached base in half of his 12 plate appearances, going 4-for-10 with two walks. He now has 30 RBI in his past 13 games against the Twins.
Add it up, and it was enough to Yankees extended their streak of postseason victories over the Twins to 13, the longest streak for any team against any opponent in major league history.
“We were outplayed for three games,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s OK to acknowledge that, and we’ll be back.”