The Minnesota Twins lost Game 1 of the ALDS to the New York Yankees, and while the Twins put up a fight early, manager Aaron Boone out-managed rookie skipper Rocco Baldelli.
The Yankees bullpen helped stabilize Game 1 after James Paxton struggled to keep the Twins off the board early, falling behind early 2-0 deficit in the top of the 3rd. After struggling in the 5th to get the last out of the inning, Yankees manager Aaron Boone turned to his elite group of relievers and they went on to handle the Twins for the rest of the game.
Rocco Baldelli, in his first postseason as a manager, looked like a guy who hadn’t done this before, completely mismanaging his bullpen after starter Jose Berrios was pulled. He first turned to Zach Littrell, who didn’t record an out, forcing Baldelli to pivot to Matt Duffy who was able to get the Twins out of the inning with limited damage.
In the bottom of the 6th, with the Twins down just one run thanks to a Miguel Sano homer, and Baldelli bypassed his top relievers like Taylor Rogers or secret weapon Brusdar Graterol to go with Cody Stashak and it ended poorly. The young Stashak allowed flyballs in each at-bat, two of the five balls put in the air landed in the seats, and the Twins then found themselves down 7-4.
Baldelli then decided to put arguably his worst starter into the game in Kyle Gibson, who gave up a walk with the bases loaded and then a three-run double to D.J. LeMahieu. The lead now 10-4 in favor of the Yankees, Baldelli then went to one of his top arms in Graterol, burning one of his best pitchers down six runs in Game 1. It made zero sense.
Now the Yankees have gotten a look at a potential high-leverage arm when the game was likely over. For what it’s worth, Graterol did have two strikeouts but only threw 18 pitches, so he’ll likely be available for Game 2. But that’s not really the point.
The Twins and Yankees are two evenly matched teams and the Twins had a slight advantage in their bullpen with someone like Graterol. That’s now a moot point as the Twins will hope for better success in Game 2 versus Mashiro Tanaka. But should Minnesota get an early lead, Baldelli has to be better with his relievers because going back to Minnesota down 2-0 in the series would be a major problem.