NEW YORK – The Twins were relatively happy about how they swung the bats Friday in the opening game of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees, 10-4 winners, were ecstatic about the way they didn’t swing.
New York drew eight walks and a hit batter, and cashed five of them into runs. They ballooned Jose Berrios’ pitch count so quickly, he lasted only four innings. And they took critical pitches that the Twins were hoping would entice them.
“That’s controlling the strike zone and that’s what allowed us to win the game tonight,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after his team was outhomered (3-2) and outhit (8-7), yet scored six more runs than that Twins anyway.
“We won a lot of 3-2 counts tonight,” Boone said “The guys, up and down the lineup, really made it tough on [Twins] pitchers because they stayed in the strike zone.”
One game-changing take came in the fifth inning, when New York took the lead for good. After Zack Littell walked Aaron Judge and hit Brett Gardner with a pitch — he threw nine pitches, only one strike — Tyler Duffey replaced Littell, and struck out Edwin Encarnacion. But he then walked Giancarlo Stanton to load the bases.
Up came Gleyber Torres, who immediately got down in the count, 0-2. But Duffey threw a couple of pitches well out of the strike zone to even the count. Then he tried a slider, and liked how it looked.
“As soon as it came out of the hand, I knew it was a good pitch,” Duffey said.
Just not good enough. Umpire Manny Gonzalez called it a ball, and pitch tracking showed it just wide. Torres then fouled off another pitch, then hit a hot smash down the left-field line that scored two runs.
“We didn’t get the call,” Duffey said with a shrug. “Unfortunately, the next one goes down the line, and that’s kind of the way it goes.”
The roster is settled for the Division Series, but there’s always a possibility that the Twins might make different personnel decisions, for injury or tactical reasons, if they reach the American League Championship Series or World Series.
So on Friday, the Twins sent four players — righthander Fernando Romero, lefty Lewis Thorpe, infielder Ronald Torreyes and outfielder Ian Miller — to their Florida facilities in Fort Myers. They’ll conduct daily workouts there until the Twins are eliminated, or champions.
The other four inactive players — righthander Ryne Harper, lefty Martin Perez, catcher/infielder Willians Astudillo and outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. — are remaining with the team, ready to be activated on short notice if an injury occurs. They were introduced before the game with their teammates and will be in the dugout during games.
Perez was disappointed to be left off the roster, Nelson Cruz said, but still hopes to be of use to the team.
“We talked last night, and today we talked a little bit more. He’s really positive,” Cruz said. “He’s definitely disappointed because he feels like he can help the team win games. But I [told] him, ‘The only way you can help us now is to be a cheerleader. Go out there and give your best and make sure your teammates understand that you’re upset because you want to play, but at the same time, you’ll give your best on the bench.’ ”
In addition, Byron Buxton, on the 60-day injured list after shoulder surgery, will travel throughout the playoffs. Reliever Sam Dyson, whose own surgery was more recent, will be in the dugout for all home playoff games at Target Field.
DJ LeMahieu launched his first postseason home run in the sixth for the Yankees. LeMahieu, who dropped an easy popup at first base early in the game, made it 10-4 in the seventh when the leadoff man laced a three-run double off Kyle Gibson for his third hit.
“That was like my worst nightmare, dropping a popup like that,” LeMahieu said. “Just turn the page real quick and get ready for the next opportunity.”
• Jake Odorizzi will start Game 3 on Monday night at Target Field, the Twins announced after Friday’s loss.
• Torii Hunter has been chosen to throw out the first pitch before Game 3, the first playoff game at Target Field since 2010, and he’ll have a celebrity catcher, too: Joe Mauer, whose No. 7 was retired in June. Two more Twins Hall of Famers, Rod Carew and Tony Oliva, will do the honors on Tuesday.
Duluth’s Trampled By Turtles will perform the national anthem before Game 3.
• Cruz’s third-inning home run Friday was the 17th of his career in the postseason. That’s second among active players; Albert Pujols has 19.
• Reliever Brusdar Graterol reached 101 mph on the radar gun during his eighth-inning appearance.