Joe Girardi was charging out of the dugout six batters into the game on Tuesday night, and just like that, a night that was supposed to be the start of something magical in the Bronx felt like a funeral.
Luis Severino was done after 29 pitches, two of which the Minnesota Twins had deposited over the outfield fence for a three-run lead. The worst-case scenario was coming to life at Yankee Stadium, that the team's young ace would come undone in this do-or-die AL Wild Card game.
"You always bring up that scenario that, if (the starter) takes a line drive off the shin, what do you do?" Girardi said. "I didn't think that he was only going to get one out. I didn't bring that scenario up."
Girardi wasn't about to wait, and that quick hook -- as brilliant as it was bold -- is not just the reason the Yankees are headed to the American League Division Series in Cleveland. It is also why this team has a legitimate shot at a long, memorable run through the postseason with a formula that fans might find awfully familiar.
Didi Gregorius had the biggest hit, a three-run home run in the bottom half of that first inning that allowed everyone to breathe. Aaron Judge had his first October moment, a two-run shot of his own in the fourth that stamped out whatever life the Twins had left. nj