Bronx, N.Y. — The “Next Man Up” mantra holds a substantial amount of weight in the Bronx. Each batter has tremendous faith in the person behind them and their abilities to change the course of the game with one hit. So, there was no surprise when Didi Gregorius stepped into the batter’s box and relinquished a grand slam in the bottom of the third inning to help give his team the run support it needed to solidify an 8-2 win over the Minnesota Twins in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
“You know, every year we focus on trying to get better, and that’s one of the things we talked about with runners in scoring position, and that’s the thing that helps you win the game,” Gregorious said after the team went 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position in Game 2. “So, I think that’s what the team has been doing the whole year round, and it’s always the next guy up.”
“This was big,” manager Aaron Boone said after the game. “To have the kind of night we had last night and then follow it up today kind of supporting Masa there, who set the tone for us, and to really have that big inning and kind of take the game away, just a lot of really good at-bats. Obviously, the huge one from Didi, which was great to see. A great way to start out this series.”
Gregorius’ grand slam was the 12th grand slam by a Yankee in the team’s history, the last coming off the bat of Robinson Canó in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers in 2011.
Before the storm of runs in the third inning, Edwin Encarnación made sure the Yankees offense struck first in Game 2 as he singled in the bottom of the first inning to score DJ LeMahieu. Encarnación is one of a handful of players like Torres, LeMahieu who have found their postseason footing early on in the ALDS and has found his niché inbetween a Yankees lineup that has his full support in front and behind him.
“Now we have a full line-up together,” Encarnación said, “Very excited to be a part of this line-up, its an unbelievable line up. I know, and everyone know, here in this room, what we can do.”
With an immense amount of support on the offensive side of the plate, Masahiro Tanaka did not let the pressure of the postseason allow him to falter, in his sixth career postseason start Tanka gave up one run over five innings and struck out seven Twins before handing the ball over to Tommy Kahnle.
The Minnesota Twins were able to accumulate six hits against a brazen Tanaka and Yankees bullpen. Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz and Luis Arraez each reached on base with a hit but there wasn’t enough power to surpass the Yankees on the scoreboard.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli isn’t losing faith in his teams abilities to overcome a 0-2 hole, his confidence resides in the Twins’ history to come back when their backs are up against a wall. “We rely on ourselves. We pick ourselves up. We’ve done a great job with that all year long.” Baldelli reassured, “Any sort of stretch where things aren’t going well, that’s fine. We’re going to deal with that, and we’re going to be perfectly okay.”
Baldelli has one message for those who think it’ll be easy for the Twins to be swept in the ALDS, “We’re going to come out fighting and ready to go.”
The Yankees and Twins shift the series to Minnesota to prepare for Game 3 on Monday October 7 at 8:05 ET at Target Field. Luis Severino has received the starting nod in Game 3, while Jake Odorizzi will try to save the Twins’ season in Minnesota.
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