I lost track of time. I was sitting in my room watching TV when I got a buzz on my phone alerting me that Didi Gregorius had just doubled, putting the Yankees up 2-0 in the first. Great start. We needed that after last night. So, I come into the living room to watch the game. A solid first inning by Domingo Germán. “Hey, tonight could be a pretty easy win,” I think to myself. I was very, very wrong.
In the bottom of the second inning, Germán started a trend of Yankees pitchers losing the zone. After a Luis Arraez RBI single, Germán walked the bases loaded. After a mound visit, he was able to barrel down and work out of a jam against Jason Castro and Max Kepler. The Yankees lead was safe, for now.
After Gary Sanchez stranded the bases loaded in the top half of the third, the Twins, who are on pace to obliterate the MLB single season home run record, did exactly what they do best. Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz went back-to-back off of Germán, and the Twins had the lead, 3-2.
After a 1-2-3 top half, the Twins blew the game wide open in the bottom half of the inning. After a double, a Jason Castro RBI single, a fly out, a single, a HBP, a run scoring ground out, Aaron Boone put his trust in Germán to get one more out. He…did not. Miguel Sano took the 26-year-old 414 feet to left, giving the Twins an 8-2 lead, and marking the end of the night for Germán. Germán finished the night with a line of 3.2 IP, nine hits, eight earned, and two walks. Not ideal.
The Yankees wouldn’t go down without a fight, though. Sir Didi cut the lead in half with a three run shot in the top of the fifth, but Jorge Polanco doubled off of Yankee reliever David Hale in the bottom half to extend the Twins lead to 9-5.
Fast forward to the eighth inning. Now, it gets fun. After the Yankees stranded men on the corners with one out in both the sixth and seventh inning, the bottom of the order was due up in the eighth. Minnesota reliever Blake Parker was tasked with keeping the lead at 9-5. He failed at that task. After a Gleyber Torres walk and a Gio Urshela double, Mike Tauchman ripped a double to center, but Urshela had to hold up out of fear of it being caught, so only one run scored on the play.
So, just to set the scene: top of the eighth, men on second and third with nobody out, and the game tying run at the plate in the form of Aaron Hicks. Some famous Hicks heroics coming up? Nope. Instead, Hicks flailed at a nasty splitter from Parker for the first out. That brought up Aaron Judge. As Yankees announcer David Cone said earlier in the at-bat, all Judge needed was a hanger from Parker. He got exactly that. Judge absolutely hammered a hanging curveball off of the 23-foot right center field wall, not a foot away from being a home run, scoring two.
With the score 9-8, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli made a call to bullpen, bringing in Taylor Duffy to work out of the jam. Duffy was able to strike out Edwin Encarnacion, but walked Luke Voit on a 3-2 pitch maybe inches below the strike zone, much to the dismay of Baldelli and Duffy. As he was walking off the mound, Duffy told home plate ump Ramon De Jesus to “do better” after being pulled in favor of Ryne Harper.
Harper came in to face Gregorius, who was looking to add on to his 3-3 day. SPOILER ALERT: He did. Gregorius hit a sharp fly to center field on the seventh pitch of the at bat. Max Kepler was unable to time his jump correctly, and the ball dropped in for a two run, go ahead double for Didi, his sixth and seventh RBIs of the night. That was the catalyst for Baldelli, who, still angry about the Voit call, instantly came out of the dugout to say his piece with De Jesus, who promptly ejected the Twin manager. With a man on second and two out, the struggling Gary Sanchez was robbed of an RBI single by Jorge Polanco, who made a diving stop and got Gary at first for the third out. Sanchez pulled up at the end of the play, and was removed from the game. Boone announced after the game that Sanchez would be placed on the IL with a groin injury.
So, there you have it. The Yankees had come all the way back to take a 10-9 lead, and were now gonna hand it to their star-studded bullpen to end the night. That didn’t work out. After a sharp one-out single for Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano took advantage of a sinker that did not sink from Zack Britton. He sent it 457 feet into the center field seats for a go-ahead blast, making the Yankee comeback all for naught.
In the top half of the inning, Minnesota entrusted closer Taylor Rogers, who has been automatic this year, to end the game. After back-to-back flyouts, the game was left in the hands of Mike Tauchman, who quickly went down 1-2 against the tough lefty. Tauchman did not bite on any of the the next three pitches however, and passed the baton to Hicks with the game on the line. Hicks, who has had a flare for dramatics at multiple points this year, did it again. He saw the first pitch from Rogers and sent it into the left field bullpen, leading to me and my brother jumping up and down in the living room at 12:15 AM.
Okay, THAT was it. The Yankees took the lead on their last out, and were now gonna hand it to the best reliever in baseball, Aroldis Chapman, to end it. Wrong again. I’m not sure who pitched the ninth for the Yankees, but that was not Aroldis Chapman. Whoever was in his jersey walked each of the first three batters he or she faced, throwing 11 of their first 14 pitches for balls. Boone, much to my dismay, stuck with #54. With the bases loaded, nobody out, and Polanco-Cruz-Rosario due up, the person in Chapman’s jersey was suddenly able to find the zone, and get each of the next three to line out, although the first one was a sac fly that brought home the tying run, escaping with the best case scenario: a tie game.
MORE BASEBALL! The Twins brought in reliever Kohl Stewart to attempt to keep the game tied. Just like so many other pitchers last night, he did NOT do his job. Stewart allowed three straight singles, one off the bat of Gleyber Torres that brought home the go-ahead run. A wild pitch with men on the corners scored Austin Romine, and the Yankees had a 14-12 lead. While after the Didi and Hicks hits I was jumping up and down, after these, I was calmly clapping. Why? Because with how every single pitcher besides DAVID HALE pitched during that game, I had no confidence in an easy 10th. I was right!
The Yankees brought in Adam Ottavino to lock it down. Ottavino struck out the dangerous Sano, but then proceeded to walk the next two batters. Ott’s first pitch to Ehire Adrianza was hit hard, but Gregorius not only made a great play to stop the ball from going into the outfield and tying the game, but he made an unreal flip to Torres, who stepped on second and missed the game ending double play by inches. Welp, one more batter. Ottavino-Garver. We are in for a fun at-ba- wait never mind he walked him on four pitches. *Sigh*. That walk meant the end for Ottavino, who was muttering expletives as Boone came to pull him.
Enter: Chad Green. This was it. Game on the line. Bases loaded, Twins down two, Max Kepler at the plate. Green just missed with a fastball away to start the at bat, but was able to sneak one in for strike one. The 1-1 pitch missed just down, making the count 2-1. Green, the fastball heavy pitcher, went with what works. He tossed a 97 mph fastball on the outer corner of the plate. Kepler ripped it. 103 mph off the bat, fly ball to left center field. Hicks, on the run. If he caught it, game over. If he dropped it, game over, as odds are Garver scores from first. In a game with so many dramatics, the last play of the game had to have it. Hicks laid out, and made an outstanding diving catch to end one of the greatest baseball games I have ever seen.
Last night was a rollercoaster of emotions, but there is nothing that will resemble it better than this chart of win probability: