MINNEAPOLIS - Rocco Baldelli’s decision to take Jose Berrios out after four innings Friday night might come back to haunt him if the Minnesota Twins can’t find a way to get past the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series.
Berrios did not go back out for the fifth inning after throwing 88 pitches, having allowed three runs, one earned, while striking out six and walking three. Middle relievers Zack Littell, Cody Stashak and Kyle Gibson combined to allow seven earned runs and issued four walks as the Twins lost Game 1 Friday night, 10-4.
Twins’ pitchers walked eight Yankee hitters in the loss.
“We tried to grab those outs early from Littell in the fifth, and it played out the way it played out. Our guys are resilient. Our guys have had outings here and there throughout the course of the year that didn’t go as planned, and they come right back and they’re ready to go,” Baldelli said.
Baldelli and Twins players said going into the series they didn’t care about the team’s lack of success against the Yankees in the last decade-plus. The Twins have now lost 14 straight playoff games, 11 straight to the Yankees, who are now also 100-37 against the Twins since 2002. That mark includes a 14-2 record in the playoffs.
The Twins got out to an early 2-0 lead on the Yankees after a 1-out solo homer from Jorge Polanco in the first, and a Nelson Cruz solo homer to right in the third.
The Yankees took the lead in the third with the help of two Twins’ errors. Luis Arraez, who fought back from an ankle injury to make the playoff roster, failed to catch DJ LeMahieu’s pop-up in short right field. He scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s double. With the bases loaded and one out, Gleybor Torres hit a grounder to Miguel Sano that should’ve been an inning-ending double play. C.J. Cron couldn’t field Arraez’s throw from second, and two runs scored on the play to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
The Twins tied the game 3-3 in the fifth after Arraez hit a 1-out double to left and scored on Polanco’s single to left center.
Littell entered in the fifth in relief of Berrios and faced just two batters after Aaron Judge walked and Brett Gardner was drilled in the shoulder by a fastball. Tyler Duffey entered, and Torres lined a two-run double to left to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.
The Twins got back within 5-4 on Miguel Sano’s leadoff homer to right in the sixth.
But the Yankees answered in the bottom half with LeMahieu’s solo homer to left center, and Gardner’s homer to right off Cody Stashak to take a 7-4 lead.
The Yankees delivered the back-breaking hit in the seventh with Kyle Gibson pitching in relief. Gibson, who battled E. coli before Spring Training and hasn’t been himself physically for much of the year, dealing with ulcerative colitis near the end of the regular season, walked Giancarlo Stanton, Torres and Didi Gregorius to load the bases. With two out, LeMahieu unloaded the bases with a three-run double off Gibson to give the Yankees a 10-4 lead.
LeMahieu finished the night with three hits, four RBI and scored twice.
The Twins struck out 13 times against Yankees’ pitching. Mitch Garver, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Cron went a combined 0-for-16 with six strikeouts. The Twins were also 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and left nine runners on base.
The Twins scattered seven hits in the Game 1 loss. Baldelli announced after that Randy Dobnak will get the Game 2 start Saturday at Yankee Stadium. In five starts, Dobnak is 2-1 with a 1.59 earned run average. Jake Odorizzi will get the Game 3 start Monday night at Target Field.
“Our team as a whole has bounced back exceptionally well all year long. Regardless of what happens, the TVs will be on in the clubhouse, the music will be playing on low to medium volume and guys will be just getting changed and getting ready for tomorrow,” Baldelli said.