The New York Yankees reached the American League Championship Series thanks to a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Monday's win saw the Yankees sweep the Twins 3-0 in the MLB's AL Division Series.
Luis Severino and New York's bullpen silenced the Twins thanks to some great defensive plays as the Yankees moved within one step of their first World Series since 2009.
Now, the Yankees advance to face the winner of the ALDS clash between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays.
On the other hand, the Twins extended their MLB-record postseason losing streak to 16 games, with 13 of those losses coming to the Yankees.
Three takeaways from the Yankees' series-clinching win over the Twins in ALDS Game 3
Yankees are more than a one-dimensional team
New York won plenty of games this year simply by bludgeoning the other team at the plate. The Yankees led the majors in runs and finished just one homer behind the Twins' MLB-record 307 homers. But their pitching and metrics were average to below average.
Yet the Yankees are far from a one-dimensional team. Starter Severino pitched four shut-out innings, striking out four, and the bullpen shut down the Twins the rest of the way in Game 3 on Monday.
And New York pitchers benefited from some spectacular plays behind them. The gem of the night: Second baseman Gleyber Torres made a diving stop in right field to throw out Eddie Rosario in the sixth, with a great scoop by first baseman DJ LeMahieu.
An inning later, Aaron Judge caught what looked like a sure RBI double off the bat of Miguel Sano.
And in the ninth, shortstop Didi Gregorius made a diving catch to save a run and snuff out a last-gasp rally by the Twins.
The Yankees held a loaded Twins line-up to only seven runs in three games. In short, these Yankees do far more than just crush home runs and trot around the bases.
Things will get tougher for Yankees in ALCS
No disrespect to the Twins, who earned 101 regular-season victories and have a foundation to return to the postseason next year. But they are not the Astros, the Yankees' presumed opponent in the ALCS — the Astros lead the Rays 2-1 in their ALDS, with Tampa Bay hosting Game 4 on Tuesday. The Astros can match the Yankees' offensive firepower, and in Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke, have arguably the most dominating trio of postseason starters in MLB history.
The Yankees outscored their opponents by 204 runs, an impressive feat and the third-highest mark in baseball. The Astros outscored their opponents by 280 runs.
A potential Yankees-Astros ALCS is the series that baseball fans have been drooling over for months. The Rays can spoil that dream showdown, but even against the Rays, the Yankees would face a formidable trio of starters in Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton and Blake Snell. Things get much tougher for the Yankees moving forward.
Twins picked a bad time for strikeouts to spike
For a team that set the MLB season home run record this term, the Twins were remarkably tough to strike out in 2019, ranking 25th in baseball in strikeouts.
Unfortunately, it seems the Twins were saving all their strikeouts for the postseason. Minnesota struck out 27 times in the first two games of the ALDS, far above their season average of about eight Ks per game. After the Twins loaded the bases with nobody out in the second inning, Sano popped out, but Severino then struck out Marwin Gonzalez swinging and Jake Cave was called out on strikes.
With runners on first and second the next inning, Mitch Garver struck out to end the threat.
Then, with two runners on and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth, Aroldis Chapman struck out two batters to lock down the victory.
With the Twins' season hanging in the balance, the ALCS was a bad time for a spike in strikeouts.
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