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Yankees 1, Twins 8: Nothing goes right as Minnesota pummels Nestor

This incredible stretch of Yankees baseball couldn’t last forever.

MLB: New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Entering play on Wednesday, the 2022 Yankees had been a bulldozer en route to a 40-15 record. In every single one of those 55 games, they’d either won or been close enough in those rare losses to be within shouting distance. Indeed, even in the two five-run L’s — their previous season-worst margin of defeat — they held the opposing team scoreless into the eighth. They hadn’t gotten their asses kicked since 2021.

Well, all good things must come to an end, and all good baseball teams must eventually get their asses kicked. The previously masterful Nestor Cortes had his worst start of the season, the offense managed just four hits, and the Twins beat the Yankees, 8-1, to snap New York’s seven-game winning streak.

The Yankees had multiple cracks early to score the game’s first run off old Tampa Bay foe Chris Archer, who had allowed runs in each of his last nine starts while only lasting an average of just under four innings. Yet through four they could not push a single man across, nor even actually get a hit.

A second-inning leadoff walk to Giancarlo Stanton was immediately followed by a double-play ball from Josh Donaldson. Archer’s free pass to Gleyber Torres after that didn’t go anywhere either, as Aaron Hicks grounded out in a bunt attempt to beat the shift.

Then in the fourth, the Yankees squandered an even better opportunity to score. Aaron Judge worked a one-out walk, and Twins shortstop Nick Gordon blew a perfect double-play ball from Anthony Rizzo (actually plunking Judge on the arm with his throw). Archer created more problems for himself by walking Donaldson on five pitches to load the bases with just one out. However, Torres swung on the first pitch and gave Gordon a second chance at a double play. Even with the infield in, Gleyber hit it hard enough for Gordon to turn two, sending another Yankees threat by the wayside.

Cortes did his part through three innings by retiring the Twins in order. Like the Yankees though, the Twins put men on in the fourth; unlike the Yankees, they did not fail to convert. Byron Buxton started the rally with the first hit of the game, a single to left. Fresh off the IL, Carlos Correa smacked a hit of his own. Cortes got the next batter, but Gio Urshela greeted his old friend with a deep fly to the wall that Stanton couldn’t corral:

This was Stanton’s first outfield start since returning from the IL, and he was doing so in an unusual right field that he hadn’t played in for exactly six years. The inexperience showed, and I’m sure Stanton would probably say that he should’ve caught that. The missed opportunity cost another run when José Miranda chopped a grounder that forced DJ LeMahieu to range past the third-base bag. His throw to second didn’t beat Urshela, and the score was 2-0, Minnesota.

Cortes escaped the inning without another run crossing home, but only with a key assist from Hicks. Max Kepler singled to left, and knowing that Hicks’ arm has faltered since Tommy John surgery in 2019, Twins third-base coach Tommy Watkins sent Gio. To Hicks’ credit, he came up with his best throw in years:

If nothing else, it’s refreshing to see that Hicks still has missiles like this one left in his arm.

The Yankees’ offense finally managed to scratch a run off Archer when Hicks scored on a sacrifice fly from LeMahieu in the fifth. He had been on third after a surprising double to left by Kyle Higashioka, but Higgy was stranded when Judge grounded out to end Archer’s night at five effective innings and just a pair of hits allowed.

The Yankees should have done better against an over-the-hill guy like Archer, and the Twins drove that point home as they knocked Cortes out of the game in the home half of the fifth. Ryan Jeffers and Buxton both took him yard with blasts that landed over 420 feet away. So many games this year have belonged to Nestor; this was a rare off-night. In fact, it was the first time that he’d allowed over three runs in a contest since August 10th. That’s a testament to how far he’s come in a short amount of time.

Anyway, the rest of the ballgame was all Twins. A double by Urshela off Clarke Schmidt and more shaky defense from Stanton in right led to a couple more runs in the sixth, and when Schmidt began the seventh with back-to-back walks, the call to the bullpen went out to Manny Bañuelos. No runs would be charged to him, but another walk and a two-run single by Miranda made it 8-1, Twins. The score stayed there and the Yankees never really threatened again, as they notched only two hits from the sixth inning onward.

Tomorrow, the Yankees bid farewell to Target Field as they send Gerrit Cole to the mound to try and salvage the series win against former division rival Dylan Bundy. First pitch will once again be at 7:40pm ET.

Box Score