Reality bites the Twins

The Judge banged his gavel big in the fourth to give the Yankees big insurance runs and the Twins a sentence to the off-season Phantom Zone.

The Judge banged his gavel big in the fourth to give the Yankees big insurance runs and the Twins a sentence to the off-season Phantom Zone.

Before he took the mound in Yankee Stadium Tuesday night, Ervin Santana, the Twins’ wild card game starter, did his best to shake off how much he doesn’t really like Yankee Stadium. Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles,” the veteran tweeted, “is not a realist.”

Oh, boy, did reality bite. Hard.

Someone should have reminded Santana of the admonition of Jesus Christ: “Judge not, that ye not be judged.” Or, Judged, as the case turned out to be for the Twins as they went home for the winter on an 8-4 loss.

AL Wild Card Game: Santana faces singing winds, Yankee beasts

Santana gets the wild card start in a Yankee Stadium about which he's not necessarily enamoured . . .

Santana gets the wild card start in a Yankee Stadium about which he’s not necessarily enamoured . . .

Twelve years ago, the Yankees got a division series Game Five shock from an Angels rookie named Ervin Santana. It cost them a trip to the American League Championship Series, where the Angels would be broken on one of the worst blown calls in postseason history, but that’s another story.

Buck Showalter didn’t do Tuesday what he did do in July

Buck Showalter, after refusing to do Tuesday what he did in July cost him and his Orioles a season . . .Charlie Dressen (Ralph Branca over Carl Erskine, 1951), phone home. Casey Stengel (Jim Coates and Ralph Terry over Luis Arroyo, 1960), there’s a call for you on line 60. Mike Matheny (Michael Wacha over Trevor Rosenthal, 2014), come out from under the rug.

All is forgiven. Buck Showalter died for your sins Tuesday night and slaughtered the Orioles’ season while he was at it.

Showalter wasn’t even close to the first manager ever to make the wrong bullpen decision in a postseason win-or-be-gone game. But he may yet prove the most ignominious. Especially because the decision he refused to make Tuesday night was one he made on 31 July—and got the result he could have gotten Tuesday making the same move.

Showalter’s vapour lets the Jays have a blast

Encarnacion, dropping his bat from a high hand, acknowledging he knows what he's just hit is sending the Blue Jays to an ALDS . . .

Encarnacion, dropping his bat from a high hand, acknowledging he knows what he’s just hit is sending the Blue Jays to an ALDS . . .

You can ask yourselves which is going to hurt for the longest time. Will it be Ubaldo Jimenez, after surrendering a wild card game-winning three-run homer on the first pitch to Edwin Encarnacion in the bottom of the eleventh Tuesday night? Or will it be Buck Showalter, after he’s roasted all the way around the Beltway for leaving Jimenez in rather than bringing in Zach Britton.

Dallas and the Astros nudge the Bronx Buttercups to one side

Keuchel was nobody's fool  Tuesday night . . .

Keuchel was nobody’s fool Tuesday night . . .

All around Astroworld you could hear a soft sigh of nervousness in the bottom of the seventh Tuesday night. If manager A.J. Hinch lifting Dallas Keuchel backfired, and the Yankees turned the Houston bullpen into steak, Hinch was going to be battered up one side and down the other as, well, as Matt Williams’s heretofore undetected disciple.

In a hunt-and-peck thriller, the Royals’ roaches exterminate the A’s

Perez strokes the game-winner that'll pay for his steaks in K.C. for, oh, forever . . .

Perez strokes the game-winner that’ll pay for his steaks in K.C. for, oh, forever . . .

The Pirates and the Giants have their work cut out for them before they square off in the National League wild card game Wednesday. Unless they think they can come up with even half the hair-raiser the American League game was Tuesday night, that is.

Frankly, Bernard Malamud and Douglas Wallop themselves couldn’t have written Tuesday’s script. Kansas City, which hasn’t seen the Royals anywhere near the postseason since the Reagan Administration, wouldn’t have bought it prior to Tuesday night.

The Orioles, Defiant

Saunders, defying the Rangers and his own history against them, at home and otherwise . . .

Don’t be surprised if the word “defiance” turns up on Baltimore Orioles’ caps or uniform sleeves somewhere during this postseason. Their very season seems to define it, and the way they pushed the Texas Rangers out of it seems to redefine it.

My God, the Rangers even managed to load the pads on Oriole closer Jim Johnson with two out in the bottom of the ninth and David Murphy coming up, and all they could do was watch in mute horror when Murphy’s fly settled into Baltimore left fielder Nate McLouth’s glove for the game, 5-1.