Category: baseball

Yankees Will Be in Mix For Cole or Strasburg

File Photo Steve Strasburg Neil Miller /The New York Extra/2019

 Aaron Boone could have won the 2019 AL Manager of The year but he was the runner up to the Twins’ Rocco Baldelli. Boone was deserving with a team that overcame a  MLB record 30 players on the injured list and winning 100 games or more in his first two years as manager.

File photo Aaron Boone Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Leave that for another day about Aaron Boone coming up short. The priority now is for the Yankees to go that extra step and play baseball deep into October.

And with the GM meetings this week in Scottsdale Arizona, Brian Cashman has started that task to a new season. In a few weeks the process to winning again in 2020 continues at the annual Winter Meetings in San Diego. 

File photo Brian Cashman Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

Which always brings up the question for all teams, and in particular for the Yankees, regarding their failure to reach the World Series for the first time since the years of 1910.

But the Yankees are close. You can blame the inability to send a frontline starter to the mound in the postseason, a Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. 

Overall, the Yankees  2019 postseason has been recounted over and over about their failure to score with runners in scoring position. Or was it analytics that saw their potent lineup swing and miss at first pitches?

The objective, as it always is for Brian Cashman, return and win the World Series and do it with their mix of a few veterans.  Get it done with another year of experience from Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gio Ursehla, and perhaps Miguel Andujar.

And with that in mind, the objective of every GM in baseball this week is beginning that process to improve.  

“ Of course we’re going to talk to Strasburg,” Cashman said Monday. “We’ll talk to Cole. We’ll also talk about some surprise guys, I’m sure. It’s going to take two to tango. It’s hard to predict. But of course, anybody would have an interest in players like that.”

So, Cashman is talking. The Yankees, never dormant during the offseason,they will make their bids.

File Photo Zach Wheeler Neil Miller/The New York Extra

But bring this into consideration? How high will the Yankees go with an offer to Cole or Strasburg? How high will an offer go to Zack Wheeler if the Mets don’t make their bid to re-sign the Right-hander? Wheeler is considered the third top pitcher on the market next to the other two.

And keep this in mind, through the Yankees spend, they are always looking to not exceed that luxury tax threshold of $208 million, though they have the means this offseason to spend.

 Didi Gregorious and Dellin Betances are free agents. Cashman is not ruling out a return for Betances, though in a game that requires bullpen help, the Yankees may not have the means to retain him and all assuming at the right offer.

Then there are the words of Yankees General Partner  Hank Steinbrenner who informed this columnist three years ago that gone will be the days of handing out lucrative and long term contracts to pitchers.

For the most part, this Steinbrenner, with limited control, is still in the decision process. The Yankees have not gone long term with a starting pitcher since handing a seven-year multi-million dollar deal to CC Sabathia in 2008.

 Steinbrenner said at the time, “It is not worth the risk with a pitcher long term and susceptible to injury.”

But the philosophy, and heard from numerous sources, has changed within the Yankees hierarchy. They are aware, as we all do, the game has changed. Pitching and in the  postseason will win ball games even if it means spending over the tax.

Though for Cole, Strasburg, or Wheeler  there will be a tremendous cost. Cole is projected to obtain the highest paid contract on record for a pitcher and perhaps tops in the game.

But if the trend holds, count on the top two pitchers on the market signing late in the game and a few weeks before spring training.

Again, these next few days are about meeting and getting to know. Very few deals are made during the GM and Winter meetings.  It’s a bidding war and the Yankees will be a part of the process.

And if the Yankees want  to take that step and begin the new decade with a championship, well the first step is bringing one of those top three pitchers to the Bronx.

They hardly fail to get what they want. They are the Yankees and they do have the means to do it.  Stay tuned!
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

All Alonso Needs to do is Keep Playing Like a Rookie

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Mets #20 Pete Alonso hits his 42 home run of the year breaking a Mets record and putting the Mets ahead 1-0 in the 4th inning Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Now that Pete Alonso has accomplished almost everything a rookie can hope for, here’s our hope.

Peter Morgan Alonso, please don’t change.

Don’t make it habit but if you happen to get your jersey torn off after a post-game heroic, do the interview shirtless.

Continue to honor the victims, heroes and families of 9/11.

07/26/19 Pittsburgh Pirates vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #20 Pete Alonso at ceremony with Tunnels to Towers and Wounded Warriors Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Keep crushing home runs.

And for as long as humanly possible, play baseball like a 12-year-old at Williamsburg, full of joy and passion.

Of course, for the next couple of weeks, take the National League Rookie of the Year Plaque on a Stanley Cup-like run. You can’t plant flowers in it or drink beer out of it but you can hoist a lot of cold ones in Tampa or New York or any else place there’s a Mets  fan.

We’ll set over/under at 53, the record number of home runs Alonso slugged this year. That didn’t break just any record, it broke the record for home runs by a rookie previously held by a Yankee – Aaron Judge.

Trust us. This is huge for Mets fans that spends almost eternal second fiddle to the Yankees.

In addition to crushing those 53 home runs, Alonso drove in 120 runs while hitting. 260. The Polar Bear, all 6-3, 245 pounds even stole a base.

What was stolen from Alonso was winning the award in unanimous fashion, which clearly was on his mind Monday night at the award’s announcement. He wore a black hat inscribed with “100 %.”

 Alonso received 29 of 30 first-place votes. One voter opted for Atlanta rookie pitcher Mike Soroka received the one other first place vote.

If Alonso needs motivation next season, he could look there. Just as he could have used the fact that he barely made the big club coming out of spring training. Surely he was thrilled to make the team and maybe there was some extra mojo.

But this is what makes Alonso such a New York treasure. He doesn’t need a chip on his shoulder because he has laughter in his heart. He loves the game. He knows how few make this dream come true.

Hopefully, Alonso will never forget that. He’ll continue to embrace the big, warm, cuddly Polar Bear persona, player version of Mr. Met. He’ll get just as big a thrill out of a walk-off walk, that led to the bare-chested celebration, as he gets from a walk off homer.

He’ll be that kid that dreamed of one day winning NL Rookie of the Year. And then he did it.

Beltran, Perfect For the Mets by Rich Mancuso/The New York Extra

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 04: Carlos Beltran poses for pictures after being introduced as the next manager of the New York Mets during a press conference at Citi Field on November 4, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Truth is Carlos Beltran never left New York. We know the one-time New York Met was an all-star during his playing days at Shea Stadium signing that lucrative seven-year $119 million dollar deal after the 2004 season.

 Monday morning at Citi Field, he said  “I can’t wait to rewrite our story with the New York Mets.”

file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra 2019

Now the reality of the Carlos Beltran story begins, not as the player but the manager who will begin to guide the Mets in 2020.   He now gets that opportunity as the 22nd manager in franchise history and there was never a doubt he was coming home.

 Beltran, a nine-time All-Star, World Series champion with the Houston Astros, three-time Gold Glove winner and American League Rookie of the Year, said the Mets were the only team he considered to be a first time manager.

“His familiarity with New York City, his familarity with the Mets, his understanding of how to cope with expectations , adversity and success all factored into it,” said Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen talks to fans at the truck send off today at Citifield File photo by Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

Van Wagenen said, Beltran wanted this opportunity. He was the finalist of three, but that first impression was being a players’ manager, Not that his predecessor, Mickey Calalway, wasn’t that type, but Van Wagenen obviously wanted the manager of his choice.

And what he said during the long interview process secured the deal. He desired to be a players’ manager and he will.

But that does not matter now. Carlos Beltran is home. He never left New York, retained his residence here. He learned more working under Yankees GM Brian Cashman the past two years as an adviser.

New York Yankees General Manager , Brian Cashman file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Cashman was one of many that gave their endorsement to hire Beltran. 

“I feel that I have more credibility to motivate the players and be there for them,” he said.”  

Today, the way the game has changed, Beltran has those tools to relate in and out of the clubhouse.

Not that Mickey Callaway, who was dismissed after two years, didn’t have that relationship with his teams. Despite what was reported, the manager’s office was always open for communication when Callaway was at the helm.

But the Mets went in another direction and this time they brought a former player home.

 Mets fans will eventually forgive Beltran for the last out in 2006 that concluded their season and failed  to get the Mets to a World Series. And they should, because those six-and-a-half years wearing Number 15 will eventually get him to the Hall of Fame when the time comes in 2020.  

Credit twitter

Omar Minaya was a key component in getting this three-year deal with an option for a fourth done. He was always a Carlos Beltran supporter and they kept in contact.

Brodie listened to Minaya, the former GM  who signed Beltran in his free agent year. Beltran had another supporter, former Kansas City Royals GM Allard Baird, assistant to Van Wagenen who delivered Beltran to the Major Leagues.

 Beltran ended his career as the fifth player to reach both 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases, and just the fourth switch hitter with 400 home runs.

And this from Brodie Van Wagenen, “It was Carlos’ strengths that won the day. His ability to relate to young players, very few people have that ability to do that and walk in a room.”

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #36 Mickey Callaway talks to the press before the game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Yet this could be the most significant move made by Van Wagenen. A year on the job, he did not hire Mickey Callaway two years ago. He wanted his own manager and now he has one that comes from the family.

And if the Beltran hire does not work, Brodie Van Wagenen will have failed again in the eyes of Mets fans who want that commitment to win and play baseball in October.

But for now, the Carlos Beltran era once again begins in New York. The first Latino manager for the franchise and in New York baseball has a lot of work to do beginning Tuesday morning.

A coaching staff and lots of organizational meetings before the first pitch next March are on the agenda. More so the story, as Beltran said, is to win. And he can’t wait to rewrite the story.


Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Beltran Will Have to Learn to Drive Fast

04/06/16 Houston Astros vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.YNew York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran #36 at batting practice today File photo Neil Miller / The/New York Extra

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely – John Dalberg-Acton.

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

 The Mets have hired a manager that has never managed before.

Carlos Beltran isn’t the first to make this jump. Aaron Boone has been pretty darn impressive since taking over the Yankees. Yes, Boone inherited a team replete with talent, resources and culture, but there is a long list of coaches/managers that have failed in similar scenarios.

09/19/15 N.Y.Yankees vs N.Y.Mets at Citifield Queens N.Y. New York Yankees lead 3-0 after 2 innings New York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran #36 hits a 3 run homer in the 1st innning File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Beltran’s Mets should have a solid corps of talent but we don’t know what resources the Wilpons are willing to invest in this team. And the culture of the Mets has been one of dysfunction.

10/04/16 New York Mets wild card work out day jeff wilpon at work out today File photo Neil Miller / The New York Extra
File Photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

 Enter Brodie Van Wagenen who the Mets hired last season as GM despite the fact that he had no front office experience. The results have been mixed.

Van Wagenen made several aggressive moves (some think too aggressive) acquiring Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and Marcus Stroman. The Mets were in the playoff race until the final two weeks of the season and it was electric.

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra Mets gn brodie van wagoner talks to fans at the truck send off today at citifield

 Van Wagenen seems to have been granted tremendous power by the Wilpons. The question is, is it unchecked power? Is it the limitless power the Mets will be paying for if Van Wagenen’s ‘Forward Charge!” approach doesn’t work?  

Some of the most notorious military leaders in history have led their troops to disaster. George Custer, who graduated at the bottom of his class from West Point, led the 7th Calvary to disaster in the Battle of Little Bighorn. James Brudenell, the earl of Cardigan, lost everything but his sweater when he ordered the charge of the light brigade.

The GM with no previous management experience has hired a manager with no managing experience.

Risky? Sure.

Exciting? Yep.

Beltran only wanted to coach the Mets, and, according to published reports, did not interview for any other openings.

As is the case with Boone, Beltran, who retired in 2017, should relate to the players.

File photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

There were eight managerial openings after last season. Six have been filled. Beltran is the only minority. MLB needs to look at that because fair or unfair (read, unfair) Beltran might face extra scrutiny and certainly more attention. If he succeeds it bolsters the case for more minorities to be hired.

Beltran is walking into a unique scenario. For the first time since 2016, the Mets will enter a season with legit expectations to make the playoffs.

Van Wagenen has shown his desire to floor the accelerator, which means Beltran first ride will be in the fast lane.

This makes the Mets, with slugger Pete Alonzo and a terrific rotation, a must-watch.

08/05/19 Miami Marlins vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #20 pete alonso celebrates on a go ahead homer in the 7th innning Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Start your engines Mets fans. The Mets might be the most intriguing story in baseball next season.

Did the Yankees Lose the ALCS at the Trade Deadline?

Robbins Nest

10/17/17 Houston Astros vs New York Yankees at Yankee stadium bronx ny ALCS Game #4 photos by Neil Miller/The New York Extra New York Yankees Brian Cashman Gen Manager

By Lenn Robbins

As you drown your sorrows in whatever libation you prefer at Sunday brunch or during Sunday Night Football, no doubt there will be lively discussion and debate as to how and why the Yankees lost this ALCS to the Astros, 4-2, especially after winning Game 1 in Houston.

Was it in the top of the 11th inning of Game 2 when Gary Sanchez, owner of one of the most retched postseason performances in Yankees history, struck out looking with runners on first and second?

Or was in Game 3 when the Yankees had runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings and couldn’t get that one key hit off a less-than-dominating Gerritt Cole?

Or perhaps it was Game 5 when the Yankees had bases loaded in the fifth inning after knocking out starter Zack Greinke. But Houston’s Pressly struck out Edwin Encarnacion.

One can even make a case that it was Saturday night’s, 6-4, season-ending heartbreak of a loss in which Jose Altuve’s two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth trumped DJ LeMahieu’s two-run, game tying homer in the top of the frame.

The Yankees got what they wanted, or at least what their strength should have been – a bullpen game – words that make the fingers cramp, but that’s a discussion for another day.  

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #17 aaron boone takes #57 chad green out of the game after giving up 5 runs in the 1st innning

Every game the Yankees lost in the series was winnable, a testament to the depth and resilience of this 2019 team. Despite Sanchez’s batting slump and suspect fielding, Adam Ottavino’s October struggles, Giancarlo Stanton’s battered body and Aroldis Chapman’s hanging slider, the Yankees could have beaten a healthier and more balanced Houston Astros team.

As to why the Yankees didn’t win takes us back to July 31st when the trade line came and went and the Yankees had done nothing to improve their starting rotation. The belief that Luis Severino would return after a season on the injured list and suddenly bolster the rotation in October was at best ridiculously optimistic, at worst, folly.

Only GM Brian Cashman knows exactly what potential deals were on the table. He decided that the asking price for any of the starters that were available was too high. He’s earned that right. Anyone that signed LeMahieu as a free agent and assembled this kind of quality depth has certainly earned that right.

But in a city that judges whether a season is a success or failure in championships or bust, the season busted with Saturday night’s loss.

“No matter how many games we won in the regular season, this is a failure,” Aaron Judge told reporters after the crushing end the season. “I think about the season as a whole, guys getting injured, guys getting back, a lot of ups and downs, I think about missed opportunities and some guys I might not play with again …”

Cashman and Co. need to think about upgrading the starting pitcher. Houston’s Cole, 29, who would have pitched today had there been a Game 7, leads the list of free agent pitchers but the cost will be stunningly high.

Steven Strasburg, 31, will be available if he opts out of a deal that will pay him $100 million over the next four seasons. Zack Wheeler, 30, is on the market but the Mets should be ashamed if they let him cross from Queens to the Bronx.

It’s easy to sit back and suggest how much money a team should dole out but this is the Yankees after all. They have more automaker sponsors than some teams have sponsors.

If the Yankees don’t want to feel the devastation they experienced this October next October, the pitching has to be better. Just look at the starting pitching of the two teams that will play for the world series – Houston and Washington.

Next round’s on me.

Cole Makes Game 3 a Yanks’ Nightmare Come True

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 15: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros celebrates retiring the side during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in game three of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

The worst nightmare became a reality Tuesday night for the Yankees. The kind of nightmare that when you awaken, it feels real. Because it was real.

Painfully real.

The Yankees, for the second straight game, faced a dominating Houston starter and they were shut down like the ‘L’ Train on weekends. Gerritt Cole held the Bombers scoreless for seven innings, allowing just four hits in a 4-1 win in Game 3 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium.

The Astros lead the series 2-1 which doesn’t seem daunting until you consider this:

The team that wins Game 3 in a series tied 1-1, has a 77.1-percent chance of closing it out, according to SABR.org.

The Yankees seem to have no clue – not many teams do – of knowing how to solve Justin Verlander and Cole. Cole, 29, is unbeaten in 25 starts dating back to his last loss on May 22.  He’s 3-0 this postseason with an 0.40 ERA.

Whereas the Yankees hope to get 4-6 innings of solid starting pitching and then turn to the bullpen, one of the deepest in baseball, the Astros count on their starters to go 6-7 innings.

Verlander went six and two-thirds in Sunday night’s Game 2 victory, allowing two earned runs while striking out seven. Yankees starter James Paxton lasted just two and one-third innings.

Luis Severino, the Yankees starter Tuesday night, gave up a 420-foot home run to Jose Altuve, the second batter of the game. He lasted four and one-third innings allowing two home runs and yielding three walks.

“I don’t need to go out there and strike out 300 guys or win 20 games,’’ Severino told reporters earlier in the week. “I just need to go out there and match his stuff.”

He didn’t do that, which isn’t an indictment of the man considering he missed most of the season with shoulder and lat injuries.

The Yankees (and Astros) haven’t announced their starters for Wednesday night’s Game 4. Heavy rains are expected hours before, during and after Wednesday night’s 8:08 p.m. first pitch.

If the Nationals close out their NLCS against the Cardinals, we might see a paradigm shift in pitching philosophy. Teams have become bullpen-heavy.

Washington and Houston boast robust rotations and that has proven to be the more successful approach this postseason. The Yankees might have more time to think about that than they had hoped.

By winning Game 3 the Astros have guaranteed themselves of returning to Houston for Games 6 and 7 if necessary. Verlander and Cole could each make another start.

The nightmare has become reality.

The Hard Part Has Yet to Come For the Yankees

Robbins Nest

#18 Didi Gregorius hits a grand slam in Game #2 of the ALDS Neil Miller/The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

After the Yankees swept the Twins in such dominating fashion in their ALDS, the first thought before the first Champagne cork went flying was, “How the hell did this team win 101 games and crush 307 home runs?”

The Twins couldn’t have slain Bambi no less the dragon known as the Yankees

 “We were outplayed for three games, and it’s OK to acknowledge that,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters. “They pitched better than us, they swung the bats better than us, and they defended better than us.”

Yep. Yep. And yep.

07/31/18 Baltimore Oriolesvs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 pitches in the 2nd innning photos by NeilMiller/The New York Extra
04/21/16 Oakland Athletics vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y.New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino #40 pitches in the 2nd innning photos by Neil Miller/The New York Extra

The three Yankees starters – James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino – combined for a dazzling 2.63 ERA. The deepest bullpen in baseball did its job. Didi Gregorius broke out of his slump – bigtime. Giancarlo Stanton, injured virtually the entire season, worked out four walks in three games. Every button manager Aaron Boone pushed – Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin – was a winner.

#11 Brett Gardner file photo Neil Miller/ The New York Extra
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone

 Now the Yankees wait to see if Houston can finish off Tampa Bay Tuesday night or if the Bombers get more rest while the Astros and Rays play a Game 5 in Texas.

More rest? Who needs stinking rest? The Yankees seem to be in such a good place after dusting off the Twins, 23-7 the aggregate score in three games, you’d think rest was the last thing they want.

But the Yankees should take this good fortune and sleep on it.

The next round can’t be as easy as the last round.

The Astros, who eliminated the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS, have thought of themselves as the best team in baseball the last three seasons and it’s hard to argue  with their  311-175 record.

 The Rays have gone head-to-head with the Yankees in the AL East. They don’t see Game of Thrones dragons in the Yankees dugout but mere mortals that can be held in check by their elite starting pitching.

“It doesn’t really matter to me who we play to be honest,’’ Gardner told reporters. “If we play our game and play well, we’ll win. And if we don’t, we won’t. It’s as simple as that. Rays or Astros, it doesn’t matter. If we play the way we’re capable of playing, we don’t have anything to worry about.”

Yes, they do.

Both the Astros and Rays have much better pitching than the Twins. And the Astros have a relentless lineup. They were 4-3 against the Yankees this season  and would have a Game 7 in Houston. The Yankees bested the Rays, 12-7.


Whereas the Twins had no postseason history of success against the Bombers, the Astros have that win in 2017, a fact Aaron Judge has mentioned at times.

“I mention it as something to fuel us, but it doesn’t matter who we face going forward,” Judge said. “If we continue to play our game, if we continue to do that, we’ll be where we want to be.”

Perhaps. But it won’t be as easy as those polite folks from Minnesota made it.

Yankees lead Twins 8-1 after 5 innings by Neil Miller/The New York Extra

#18 Did Gregorius hits a grand slam in the 3rd innning

The Yankees are leading game#2 of the ALDS on a big 3rd innning of 7 runs scored, capped by a Grand Slam by #18 Didi Gregorius

#18 Didi Gregorius hits a grand slam in the 3rd inning/Neil Miller / The New York Extra
#21 Tyler Duffey hangs his head after #18 Didi Gregorius hits a grand slam in the 3rd innning

Twins Turn to Former Uber Driver to Save the Season

Robbins Nest

#25=6 D.J. Le Mathieu hits a solo homer in Game #1 of the ALDS Neil Miller ? The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

The Yankees are an acquired taste – kind of like rooting for the lions in ancient Rome, or the bulls in Pamplona or the top one-percent to make more money.

They do not throttle the opponent with dominating pitching. They don’t play small ball (although they did pull off a double steal Friday night).

The Yankees feel you out for a few rounds, uh innings, and just when the legs get a little wobbly, they unleash a barrage of fury that turns the Stadium into the only insane asylum one needs a ticket to enter.

Yankee fans pund the right field wall in excitement in Game #1 of the ALDS

Such was the case in Game 1 of the ALDS. The Yankees, who hit 306 home runs this season, faced the Twins, who hit 307 homers. Two plodding heavyweights trying to set up the big inning.

The Yankees did it twice, putting up a three spot in the third and another in the seventh as they all but KO’d the Twins in a 10-4 win that went the distant, distance, four hours and 15 minutes.

“We had a lot of opportunities to score with a lot of guys on base,” D.J. LeMahieu told reporters. “We did a really good job against their pitchers. I feel like every one of their pitchers that came in pretty much had tough innings against us, hard-fought innings.”

Yankees #26 D.J, Le Matiey hits a 3 rbi double in Game#1 of the ALDS

In other words, the Yankees pummeled the Twins physically, and more important, emotionally. The Twins entered this series under pinstripe spell.

The Yankees have ended the Twins’ World Series dreams in 2003, 04, 09, ’10 and ’17. If ever Minnesota needed a win in the opening game of a series, it was Friday night against the Yankees.

“The first one is always the biggest game,” Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge told reporters.

Perhaps. The Yankees have a way of making every game big, bad and bruising. Friday night’s affair lasted a brutal four hours and 15 minutes. Commentator John Smoltz said in the bottom of the 5th that it felt like the 8th or 9th inning.

This is not how baseball has to be played today. The Astros, behind the remarkable Justin Verlander, needed a mere three hours and 25 minutes to snuff the Rays, 6-2.

The Nationals put in less time, beating the playoff-cursed Clayton Kershaw, 4-2, in three hours and 17 minutes. And the Braves barely broke a sweat in being the Cardinals, 3-0, in two hours and 46 minutes.

But this is how the Yankees play. They believe in their bullpen and they force the opponent to believe in theirs. The Yankees and Twins combined to use 11 relievers.

The Twins figure to need a lot of relief in Game 2. Randy Dobnak, 24, the former Uber driver who got married last Saturday, faces Masahiro Tanaka. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli tabbed Dobnak because he has a 52.9 percent ground ball rate which would be impressive if he had pitched more than 28.1 innings.

“It’s been the most amazing week of my life for sure,” Dobnak told reporters. “Getting married, now the postseason start. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

We’ll see about that. Dobnak may not be entering the Coliseum chased by bulls but he might feel that way after about four hours and 25 minutes.