The New York Yankees have had the Minnesota Twins' number come October and that continued on Friday.
The two teams know each other well, especially in the postseason where they have faced each other six times since 2003. In those matchups, New York have always come away with a series – and even wild-card game – win.
The Yankees won all four American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Twins and a 2017 wild-card contest. This time around, they are up one game after their 10-4 win at Yankee Stadium.
Both teams were battling less-than-ideal situations after dipping into their bullpens with the game tied through five innings, but it was DJ LeMahieu who had yet another big night to help push New York ahead.
There will be a quick turnaround for Game 2 which is scheduled for Saturday.
Three takeaways from the Yankees' ALDS Game 1 win
James Paxton wasn't the James Paxton the Yankees know and love
The left-handed pitcher may be in his seventh MLB season, but he was in unfamiliar territory. No, it was not the location. James Paxton has gotten more than comfortable during his first season in New York, especially in the second half of the season. But it did have to do with the setting.
Paxton, who had spent all six of his previous seasons with the struggling Seattle Mariners, made his postseason debut on Friday. He was well aware of his inexperience and sought out veteran team-mates with playoff chops for advice leading up to the start.
"Luckily, a lot of [Yankees] players have had experience in the postseason," Paxton said on Thursday. "I've been talking to team-mates and asking them what it's like, what it's like to pitch in the postseason."
Paxton was entering the game after winning a career-best 10 consecutive starts before leaving his final regular-season start with tight glute muscle. The injury might have been a "non-issue" but the Twins' at-bats certainly were a problem. In 4.2 innings of work, Paxton allowed three runs off five hits while striking out eight and walking one. It was not an ideal start and far from what he has been doing late in the regular season. If it is simply playoff nerves, Paxton will need to shake them off if he wants to help propel the Yankees in the AL.
Choose your fighter: The Bronx Bombers or the Bomba Squad
It should have been a slugfest as these two bomb squads started their series. It looked as if it would start that way after Jorge Polanco hit a home run in the first inning to give the Twins an early lead, but the heavy-hitting stayed one-sided – until a LeMahieu homer got the Yankees rolling.
Both the Yankees and the Twins hit a massive amount of home runs during the regular season. Their respective bats were so hot they became the first two teams to ever hit more than 300 home runs in a single season. But, it did not translate into the postseason – at least not yet.
There were a humble five homers hit on Friday including two more from the Twins and two total from the Yankees.
LeMahieu was the difference maker
It was almost fitting that the Yankee to hit the first home run – and his first postseason home run ever – also broke the game open.
LeMahieu pushed New York's lead to 10-4 after seven innings en route to the Game 1 win to start his first postseason with the team.
He led the way for the Yankees this season recording the most hits (197), having the highest batting average (.327) as well as tallying a team-high 102 RBIs and 109 runs.
But it was not until a three-run double in the seventh that he really showed his stuff. LeMahieu is 11-16 with 27 RBIs with the bases loaded this season, including Friday.
He finished three of five at the plate with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored.
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