Torres, Gregorius lead Yankees past Twins, into ALCS

© Reuters. MLB: ALDS-New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins © Reuters. MLB: ALDS-New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins

After completing a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series with a 5-1 victory on Monday night in Minneapolis, the New York Yankees get a four-day break before opening the American League Championship Series on Saturday.

Where and against whom they will play has yet to be the determined. The Houston Astros, who own the edge for home-field advantage by virtue of their major-league-best 107 wins, hold a 2-1 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays heading into Game 4 of their ALDS on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“We’ll enjoy watching that series unfold and we’ll get ready for whoever it is,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after getting doused with beer and champagne. “We’re going to spend the night here and fly back tomorrow. We’re going to try and shut it off for the next 10 or 12 hours.”

Gleyber Torres homered and doubled twice, and Cameron Maybin also hit a home run as the New York made it 13 playoff wins in a row over Minnesota, which also lost its 16th consecutive postseason games to extend its major league record.

Didi Gregorius also had two hits and two RBIs, and Brett Gardner added an RBI single for New York, which became the first team to sweep a 100-win opponent in a division series.

Chad Green (1-0), one of six pitchers used by New York on Monday, picked up the win with 1 1/3 shutout innings of relief. Aroldis Chapman recorded the final five outs to get the save, striking Nelson Cruz out looking with runners on first and second to end the game.

“The way we played tonight was championship-caliber baseball,” Boone said. “The amount of big-time plays these guys made on defense, the amount of big pitches they made in big spots … Minnesota brought it tonight, but our guys time and time again were able to make a great defensive play or a big-time pitch.”

Eddie Rosario singled, doubled and homered, and Luis Arraez had a double among his two hits, but Minnesota finished 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Starter Jake Odorizzi (0-1) took the loss, giving up two runs on five hits over five innings, striking out five and not walking a batter.

“I mean it when I say to you that I do not sit here frustrated at all,” said Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli of his team, which set a major league record with 307 home runs, including five players with 30 or more, while winning 101 games. “Our guys should be walking out of that clubhouse with their heads held high. They never stopped playing.”

Torres (22 years, 298 days) gave New York a 1-0 lead it would never relinquish in the second inning with a 376-foot home run barely over the glove of Twins left fielder Jake Cave, becoming the youngest Yankee to homer in a postseason game since Derek Jeter (22 years, 105 days) did so in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS.

That Jeter homer is well-remembered because 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence to pull the ball into the stands, with the umpires failing to call fan interference.

“He loves the stage,” Boone said of Torres. “What more can you say? He’s such a great two-way player and clearly loves playing in the postseason.”

The Yankees extended their lead to 2-0 in the third when Gio Urshela led off with a double and scored two outs later on Gardner’s single.

New York made it 3-0 in seventh when Torres lined a double off the left field wall and scored one out later on a single by Gregorius.

Rosario cut it to 3-1 in eighth when he lined a 412-foot homer to dead center off Zack Britton. Maybin answered with a home run just inside the left field foul pole in the ninth off Sergio Romo, and Gregorius added an RBI single to end the scoring.

Including the playoffs, Gregorius has 30 RBIs in 13 games vs. the Twins since the start of 2018.

–Field Level Media

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Twins icon Mauer announces retirement

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: MLB: Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: MLB: Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins

Longtime Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer announced his retirement on Friday in a letter to fans.

The 2009 American League MVP said health and family were the primary reason he was stepping away from the game after 15 seasons.

"After much consideration, I have decided to retire from playing baseball," Mauer said in the letter. "This decision did not come easily as baseball always has been, and always will be, one of my greatest passions. …

"The decision came down to my health and my family. The risk of concussion is always there and I was reminded of that this season after missing over 30 games as a result of diving for a foul ball. … I am soon to be a father of three and I find myself thinking about my future health and its impact on my family more than I had years ago."

Mauer, 35, will hold a formal press conference on Monday.

Mauer spent all 15 years of his career with his hometown Twins. The six-time All-Star is the only catcher in major league history to win three batting titles and had a career average of .306 with 143 homers and 923 RBIs.

Mauer’s eight-year, $ 184 million contract expired after the 2018 season. He batted .282 with six homers and 48 RBIs in 127 games during his final season.

Mauer said he struggled with the thought of retiring but began to lean toward walking away after getting to catch one pitch at the top of the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox in his final big-league game. It was his first time behind the plate since suffering a concussion on a foul tip on Aug. 19, 2013.

"I realized in that moment that this is how I wanted to finish my career," Mauer said. "I wanted to finish on my home field in front of our amazing fans, my family, my friends, my teammates, and the organization that means so much to me."

Mauer was the No. 1 overall pick out of Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul in 2001 and reached the majors in 2004.

He won his first batting crown in 2006 with a .347 average, and won the title again two seasons later when he hit .328.

His best season was the MVP campaign in 2009 when he won the batting title while establishing career highs for batting average (.365), homers (28) and RBIs (96).

Mauer also won three Gold Gloves as a catcher, eventually moving to first base in 2014 because of the serious concussion he suffered in 2013.

Mauer also stated he was proud to play for just one team in his career.

"Thank you, Minnesota Twins, and thank you, fans, for making my career as special and memorable as it was," Mauer said. "Because of you I can leave the game I love with a full and grateful heart."

–Field Level Media

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