The pressure of the Wild Card Game format means that every swing, every pitch, every moment counts that much more. The Twins knew this, and promptly began Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game with authority when Brian Dozier led off with a booming homer to left-center field.
He was pumped up about it:
The dinger came on a 3-1 pitch from Luis Severino thrown at 99.4 mph -- making it the hardest-thrown pitch any Twins hitter hit for a home run all season:
Brian Dozier just hit a HR off a 99.4 MPH fastball... That's the hardest pitch the @twins have hit for a HR this year.- Daren Willman (@darenw) October 4, 2017
But there's more history with this one. Somewhat amazingly, Dozier's blast marked the first time a player has led off a postseason with a homer. It's never been done, seriously:
Brian Dozier: first leadoff HR by the first batter in THE first game of a postseason. Neat. h/t @dakern74- Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) October 4, 2017
There have been two instances of leadoff homers in the bottom of the first inning in postseason history, though: Brady Anderson for the Orioles in the first game of the playoffs on Oct. 1, 1996, and Bob Dernier for the Cubs on Oct. 2,1984.
Dozier's dinger on Tuesday night was a sign of things to come, as Eddie Rosario hit a two-run shot of his own a few batters later, only to have Didi Gregorius crush a three-run shot to tie the game ... all in the first inning. By the time the dust (and homers) had settled, the Yankees prevailed, 8-4, in the game.
That's a pretty fun fact with which to start this month of tension-packed postseason baseball ...
With the Wild Card Game out of the way, the Yankees are now set to face the Indians in the ALDS. Tune in to Game 1: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1.