Gleyber Torres clubbed a second-inning home run and made a couple of clutch defensive plays as the New York Yankees punched their ticket to the American League Championship Series by sweeping the Minnesota Twins in three games.
Torres on Monday started things off with a homer in the second and belted two doubles as the Yankees sent the Twins crashing out of the playoffs with a dominant 5-1 win.
“I compete every time, it doesn’t matter who is pitching,” 22-year-old Torres said. “I just try to focus and do my job, going to home plate, getting a really good at-bat and keeping it simple.”
Photo: David Berding-USA Today
The Yankees advanced to the championship series for the second time in three years as they outscored the Twins 23-7 in the best-of-five series.
Didi Gregorius hit two RBI singles for the Yankees, who extended their playoff winning streak over the Twins to 13 consecutive games.
“Our pitching did a great job,” said Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, who added an RBI single. “Anytime we get a little lead and turn it over to our bullpen we feel good about our chances. It is just a lot of fun. We got a young team they are pumped up about moving on.”
Earlier, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier smashed a three-run homer to help power the Rays over Houston 10-3 to sustain their title hopes.
The Rays pulled within 2-1 in the series and were to host Game 4 yesterday, when Houston’s Justin Verlander was to pitch on short rest to seek a series-winning victory.
Houston’s Jose Altuve opened the scoring with a first-inning solo homer, but Kiermaier’s blast in the second inning put the Rays ahead to stay.
“Running around the bases not feeling my feet hit the ground was a great feeling,” Kiermaier said.
Tampa Bay pitcher Charlie Morton struck out nine, while issuing only three hits and two walks over five innings.
Morton improved to 4-0 in career playoff elimination games.
“Nothing ever bothers him. He’s so composed,” Kiermaier said.
In St Louis, Missouri, catcher Yadier Molina drove in the tying and winning runs to rally the Cardinals past Atlanta 5-4 in 10 innings and force a showdown.
The Cardinals pulled level at 2-2 in the series with the final game today in Atlanta, Georgia, the winner advancing to the National League Championship Series.
St Louis second baseman Kolten Wong doubled down the left-field line off Atlanta reliever Julio Teheran in the 10th and Marcell Ozuna, who hit two home runs, reached on a fielder’s choice that moved Wong to third.
Molina, who had singled in the tying run in the eighth inning, then blasted a sacrifice fly to left field, sending Wong to the home plate for the winning run.
“I was ready to hit the fastball and he gave it to me right down the middle,” Molina said. “We put some good at-bats together in the last inning and we got the win.”
Max Scherzer pitched seven quality innings on a short rest as the Washington Nationals routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 to even their series 2-2.
Scherzer allowed just one run on four hits and struck out seven for the Nationals, who forced a decisive Game 5 today in southern California.
Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run homer and Anthony Rendon drove in three runs.
Scherzer threw 72 of his 109 pitches for strikes and walked three.
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