Thursday’s series opener against the Twins was about as embarrassing as one gets for the Yankees. They gave up nine runs in the first inning, and were essentially out of it before they even got to hit. They looked to bounce back Friday evening, with Nestor Cortes taking the hill opposite Louie Varland for the Twins. It was an exhilarating start for the Bombers, but one that ended in a blown lead and more disappointment in a 4-3 loss.
The top of the first was a breath of fresh air compared to yesterday, as Cortes retired the Twins in order on 13 pitches. Anthony Volpe led off for the Yankees and took the second pitch into into the left-field seats for his first career home run. The Captain followed the rookie in the lineup, and Aaron Judge wouldn’t be outdone, taking Varland’s very next pitch over the fence in right, giving the Yanks a 2-0 advantage.
The Stadium was rocking and Volpe’s smile was contagious.
In the top of the second, the Twins threatened, as Jose Miranda and Ryan Jeffers reached base with no one out. Cortes answered with a strikeout of Kyle Garlick and prompted an inning-ending double play, as he escaped no worse for the wear.
In Minnesota’s turn in the fourth, they once again threatened with a pair of hits to get themselves in a first-and-third situation with one out. Cortes, however, escaped again by inducing back-to-back popups to end the inning.
Outside of the noisy first inning surrendered by Varland, it was mostly smooth sailing for both starters in the early going, as the score remained 2-0 through the fifth frame. Both Varland and Cortes worked fairly efficiently as well; both starters got through five with under 75 pitches.
Cortes’ relatively easy-going outing would not last forever sadly, as Carlos Correa launched a homer with one out in the sixth. It left the shortstop’s bat at 95.9 miles per hour, and traveled just 331 feet. Yankee Stadium giveth, and Yankee Stadium taketh away:
Yes, Correa's homer was about as short-porchy as one can get. (1/30.) pic.twitter.com/kKMCGQQJzH— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) April 15, 2023
The Yankees’ response, however, would be swift and Stantonian:
Giancarlo Stanton’s patented line-drive homer restored the Yankees lead to two, as they led 3-1. It was also the 382nd of his tremendous career, tying him with a trio of All-Stars (Ryan Howard, Frank Howard, and Jim Rice) for 69th in baseball history.
The match of home run ping pong was not finished there, as Garlick took Cortes deep in the seventh, to bring the Twins deficit to one. New York led 3-2 after six and a half, with all five runs in the game scoring via the solo homer.
Cortes was done after the seventh, as he finished with a line of two runs on five hits, with seven strikeouts to go along with it. It was a solid and relatively sweat-free outing for the lefty. Varland only got through six frames, with a still-respectable three runs on six hits, as he struck out eight Yankees.
Clay Holmes came on for the Yankees in the eighth because the top of the Twins’ order was due up (Michael King was also unavailable). The strategy backfired though, as Michael A. Taylor singled, Byron Buxton walked, and Correa slashed a ball down the right field line for a double, scoring both runners.
It gave Minnesota a 4-3 lead, and Correa his second and third RBIs on the night. Holmes did not appear to have his best stuff working, and it cost the Yankees. The heart of the Bombers’ order couldn’t answer back in the eighth, and they headed into the ninth down by one.
The Yankees were tasked with coming back against the flame-throwing Jhoan Durán in order to keep this game alive. Franchy Cordero led off with scorched 113.7-mph single, but Oswaldo Cabrera promptly followed with an easy double-play ball right to Correa up the middle. Willie Calhoun pinch-hit for Isiah Kiner-Falefa in a final effort to tie the ballgame, but to no avail. He popped out to (who else?) Correa to put a wrap on Minnesota’s 4-3 defeat of the Yankees.
The Twins have now taken the first two games of this four game set, as the Yankees can only hope to split the series. Their streak of four consecutive series victories to begin 2023 is over. They’ll send out Domingo Germán in an attempt to rebound, as the Twins plan to start Tyler Mahle for the 1:05pm ET game.