There is just something about playing the Twins that makes things alright in Yankeeland. It’s been a weird, weird year for the club — particularly the lineup — but playing their old punching bags made us all feel a little better as the Yankees took the series opener, 8-4. Most of the scoring was still weird, but Good Weird is much better than Bad Weird.
We did have some Bad Weird early in the game, as DJ LeMahieu led off the game with a double. Granted a primo chance to open this road trip in a big way, the Yankees knocked three straight groundouts, and I wouldn’t have blamed you for rolling your eyes. It would take a couple more innings for the Yankees to find their footing, but find it they did.
Jordan Montgomery had a rough first inning. After Josh Donaldson reached on a soft single, he ended up getting two outs before losing long battles to Miguel Sanó and Ryan Jeffers. He got to two strikes against both hitters, but couldn’t find a putaway pitch, resulting in easy takes and foul balls. Sanó singled, and Jeffers doubled in two, putting Minnesota up early.
The Yankees did load the bases in the fifth, as Miguel Andújar took his first walk of the season, followed up by back-to-back hits from Brett Gardner and LeMahieu. Fill-in third-base coach Carlos Mendoza made the decision not to send Andújar on LeMahieu’s single, betting that with Aaron Judge due up, the best plan was to let the big man swing away with the bases loaded.
Judge put up a heck of a fight, seeing six sliders and working a walk to get the Yankees on the board. That was the end of Pineda’s night, as Jorge Alcalá was called upon to work out of the jam Big Mike left behind. He spiked a slider in the dirt against Gleyber Torres that allowed Gardy to scamper home, and just like that, we were tied. Two straight groundouts to short got Alcalá out of the frame with no further damage, though.
After another good inning from Montgomery, the Yankees broke the tie in the sixth, loading the bases again. Third baseman Willians Astudillo gifted the Yankees the run, making an error to load the bases, then cutting off the throw on a Gardner sacrifice fly that, had he not snared, probably could have cut down Gary Sánchez at the plate:
It’s still annoying the Yankees couldn’t get the big hit, but it’s nice when other teams beat themselves, rather than our guys doing it.
Montgomery got to two outs again in the sixth, before Jeffers again touched him for a single. Two out, right-handed batter Rob Refsnyder at the plate. Skipper Aaron Boone had a fresh Jonathan Loaisiga in the pen, came out for a conference at the mound, and decided to leave Monty in. “The analytics say,” go to the fresh reliever in that spot. This team gets a lot of criticism for making too many decisions based on what “the analytics say,” and this time, Boone didn’t do that.
Refsnyder doubled off the wall and the game was tied.
Weird-and-possibly-bad baseball continued into the eighth, when the Yankees scored two more runs, again without a hit either time. Tyler Wade, pinch-running for Clint Frazier (who pinch-hit for Odor), scampered home on a LeMahieu ground ball and beat a bad throw to the plate. It was a fielder’s choice, and the Yankees were up, 4-3. Judge then grounded into another fielder’s choice — albeit no out recorded at second after review — to bring in another run, 5-3.
Look, describing these complicated ways of scoring has me kinda tired. The Yankee tack-on runs came on my favorite kind of swing: Home runs.
Home runs are good. I love home runs. They take much less time to score the same amount of runs as bases-loaded walks, wild pitches, and sac flies. More homers!
This was a much more fun game than we’ve seen in a couple weeks. Yes, the Yankees beat a bad team, there’s no denying that. Every win counts though, and if these kind of outings heat this lineup up, I won’t complain. The Yankees can keep it up tomorrow against these same Twins, with another 8:10pm first pitch. Gerrit Cole will take the ball against Randy Dobnak.