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The Yankees defeated the Twins 10-4 on Friday night in Game 1 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium. >> Box Score
Five Takeaways from Friday's Game
1) In what may well be an indication of the way this Yankees-Twins series will go, Game 1 came down largely to a battle of the bullpens, and, as expected, it was no contest.
Both teams were into their pens by the fifth inning, with the game tied 3-3, and from there six Yankee relievers allowed only one run in 4 1/3 innings, while five Twins' relievers yielded seven runs, looking unnerved by the Yankee Stadium postseason atmosphere.
The result was a relatively easy 10-4 win for the home team, despite some nervous moments early as the Twins took a 2-0 lead, flexing their record-setting home run muscles.
In the end, the Yankees looked like the team that led the majors in runs scored, breaking the game open late, yet their greatest weapon is probably their bullpen depth and on this night it made all the difference.
2) All season, D.J. LeMahieu looked like the clutch, contact hitter the Yankees needed to make them more dangerous in October, especially compared to last year, and he didn't disappoint in his first opportunity to prove it, going 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, and four RBIs. LeMahieu was remarkable in the clutch all season, leading the majors by hitting .389 with runners in scoring position, and in his one opportunity Friday night, he delivered a bases-loaded double in the seventh inning.
Gleyber Torres was nearly as good as LeMahieu in the clutch, hitting .344 with RISP this season, and he produced perhaps the biggest hit of the game, a two-run double in the fifth to break a 3-3 tie.
3) After a relatively quiet season due mostly to an oblique injury, Aaron Judge reminded the national TV audience why he's one of the very best players in the game. The box score looked relatively benign, as he went 1-for-3 with a single and two walks, but his third-inning single was part of a three-run rally, and his fifth-inning walk came after he unnerved reliever Zack Littell with a laser to left that went missed by only a few feet of being a home run. That walk led to another two-run rally.
And then there was his defense, as Judge made two diving catches in right field, robbing Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario of hits in the second and seventh innings. That too was a reminder of his all-around ability, considering that he tied Cody Bellinger for most defensive runs saved by a right fielder this season.
4) James Paxton gave the Yankees a chance to win, as managers like to say, but he wasn't the shut-down Game 1 starter the Yankees had in mind when Brian Cashman traded for him in the off-season, giving up three runs in 4 2/3 innings, including solo home runs to Polanco and Nelson Cruz in the first and third innings.
Aaron Boone showed faith in Paxton, allowing him to pitch to Polanco in the fifth with a 3-2 lead, even though Adam Ottavino was warming up. The switch-hitting Polanco's numbers were significantly better vs. right-handed pitching, which probably played into it, but Paxton hung a curve ball that resulted in a line single, tying the game 3-3 and ending his night.
5) With Giancarlo Stanton under intense pressure to produce this post-season, after his memorable failures last October, it was a good sign for the Yankees that he had the discipline to lay off breaking balls down and away all night, taking three walks that gave others a chance to produce.
The walks seemed more significant after his over-anxiousness cost him in his first at-bat, as he swung at a 3-0 pitch with two runners on against Jose Berrios, a bad decision on a fastball on his hands that jammed him, producing a slow roller to third for a ground out. For someone who missed most of the season due to injuries, it wasn't a bad start to this October.
The Yankees play Game 2 of the ALDS against the Twins on Saturday at 5:07 p.m. at Yankee Stadium. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (11-9, 4.45 ERA) starts for the Yankees, while Randy Dobnak (2-1, 1.59 ERA) goes for the Twins.