MINNEAPOLIS — No sweat.
When it comes to Yankees-Twins in October, that’s the way it always is.
The Yankees completed a three-game sweep of their personal postseason punching bag — and regular season too, truth be told — with an efficient 5-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 41,121 fans on Monday night at Target Field.
“It’s got a lot of resiliency,” general manager Brian Cashman said of his ALCS-bound club, which put a record 30 players on the injured list this season. “In terms of what’s going to make it unique, it’s going to have to climb the final two mountains to be able to compare it to some of the other teams. But it’s definitely got a big heart and a lot of talent. That’s been enough to carry us past Minnesota. Will it be enough to carry us through whoever our next opponent is? We’ll see.”
The Yankees will start the ALCS on Saturday either at the Astros or home against the Rays. Tampa Bay stayed alive in that series earlier Monday with a 10-3 victory in Game 3.
As for the Yankees, who long ago adopted an oft-discussed “next-man-up” mantra as well as “take care of business,” did the latter during these three games.
“We just went out there and did our job,” said Aaron Judge, who produced an .872 OPS in the series. “We knew how good this team was and that we couldn’t sleep on them at all. We knew at any moment they could come back.”
Just not, as history shows, against the Yankees.
Behind four scoreless innings from Luis Severino, a standout game on both sides of the ball from Gleyber Torres and an excellent defensive game overall, the Yankees won their 13th straight postseason game against the Twins, who have lost 16 straight postseason games.
Torres, who went 5-for-12 in the series, homered in the second inning and saved a run with an outstanding stop to end the fifth. Didi Gregorius had a pair of RBI singles, Brett Gardner singled home a run and defensive replacement Cameron Maybin hit a towering home run to leftfield in the ninth.
The Yankees, now 102-37 vs. Minnesota since 2002, including the postseason, also swept the Twins in the ALDS in 2009 and 2010 and beat them in the last three games of the 2004 ALDS.
After Maybin’s homer and Gregorius’ RBI single made it 5-1 in the ninth, Aroldis Chapman allowed a single by Marwin Gonzalez and walked C.J. Cron. He struck out Max Kepler before Gregorius laid out to his left to stab Jorge Polanco’s line drive, likely robbing him of an extra-base hit up the alley. He then struck out Nelson Cruz looking to send the Yankees to the ALCS.
Even before that, the Twins twice had runs taken away from them — in the fifth inning, when Torres made a sliding stop in short right on Eddie Rosario's bullet grounder and DJ LeMahieu picked his throw out of the dirt, and in the sixth, when Judge needed every bit of his 6-7 frame to steal an extra-base hit from Miguel Sano.
Minnesota went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base. After winning 101 games and setting an MLB record with 307 home runs in the regular season — one more than the Yankees — the Twins managed only seven runs in the three ALDS games.
Severino, who missed most of spring training and didn’t make his regular-season debut until Sept. 17, scattered four hits and walked two, striking out four.
The game’s most crucial half-inning was the bottom of the second, when, after Torres’ first postseason homer gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the top half, the Twins loaded the bases with none out. Severino escaped the jam with a pop-up and two strikeouts, sucking the air out of what had been a raucous Target Field crowd.
“That was the ballgame right there,” Judge said. “He stepped up for us. He’s got ice in his veins. Any situation, it doesn’t matter, the crowd was getting rowdy, they had their towels waving, and he just went out there and did his thing.”
As did the Yankees' bullpen afterward.
After a clean fourth, Severino gave way to a well-rested relief corps that dominated for a third straight game, with Aaron Boone rolling out Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Chad Green, Zack Britton and Chapman. Britton allowed a homer by Eddie Rosario with none out in the eighth and then left with an ankle injury, though he and the Yankees later said he is fine and will be ready for the ALCS.
“I thought they played such a clean game,” Boone said of his team. “They made so many big plays in big spots because I really thought the Twins brought it tonight. They made it difficult. They had traffic it seemed like all night. Our guys just kept making big pitches when they needed to and big defensive plays.”