The Yankees’ offense is on life support. After dismal showings the past four games, they managed to score two runs (one earned). The lineup managed seven hits, all singles, and with only so-so pitching tonight, that doomed them to a 6-2 defeat and their first season series loss at the hands of the Twins in 22 years. They are half a game ahead of the Red Sox for last place in the AL East. Aaron Boone’s ballclub is searching for answers and coming up with a whole lot of whiffs instead.
New York got on the board early in a much needed three hit first inning, but that’s all they’d get. Aaron Judge smacked a single to left field and advanced to second on a wild pitch, followed by an opposite-field single by DJ LeMahieu to plate Judge. Although it was a better start than in recent days, it turned out to only be a brief respite.
Nestor Cortes retired the side in order in the bottom of the first, albeit with some loud contact in the form of a Jorge Polanco fly ball that Judge put away at the warning track. In the second, Byron Buxton led off with a double, but Cortes worked around it to put up a zero.
The Yankees hunted fastball early in counts the first time through the order, taking an aggressive approach against Minnesota starter Joe Ryan to avoid seeing his splitter. This approach was ineffective other than the one first-inning run.
In the end, Ryan bounced back from a rocky first inning to effectively dominate a struggling Yankees lineup. His final line came out to seven innings, seven hits, one earned run, and seven K’s. He only needed two pitches to do it, working mostly with the fastball and splitter to the chagrin of the New York offense. A better offense might have gotten to Ryan, but that is not description does not fit the 2023 Yankees right now.
Cortes allowed several hard-hit balls in play on his cutter in the first and second inning including the Polanco fly ball and the Buxton double. As the YES Network broadcast noted, he missed out over the plate with it several times which he simply doesn’t have the velo to do.
Cortes and Jose Trevino made the (temporary) adjustment, relying more on the four-seamer from the third inning on. They shifted to a game plan of busting Twins’ hitters with the four seamer, but it didn’t work for long.
In the third, Cortes ran into trouble, though not entirely of his doing. Michael A. Taylor reached on an Anthony Volpe error, then consecutive doubles from Donovan Solano and Polanco gave the Twins a 2-1 lead. The error was a bit concerning, as it’s Volpe’s third consecutive game with an error. He’s talented to enough the shake the pattern soon, but it had to be frustrating for the rookie.
The Yankees kicked off their half of the fifth with singles by Volpe and Aaron Hicks. They lucked out, though, as a Judge hit a groundball that would’ve been a double play had Solano caught the return throw. Instead, the ball squirted by, Hicks scored on the play and the game was tied after four and a half innings.
The next blow would come in the bottom of the sixth. Polanco hit a double that Hicks may have had a chance to catch (Statcast had it at a 30-percent probability). The dangerous Buxton then got into one after a long at-bat and sent the ball over the left-field wall to chase Cortes after five-plus innings.
Questionably, and with the benefit of hindsight, Cortes came right at Buxton with a base open and he cashed in. Cortes was wild in the strike zone and missed with location too much to be successful tonight.
Ron Marinaccio came on and, after an infield hit, served up a two-run homer to Trevor Larnach. Clawing back from a four-run lead seemed like an impossibility with the bats ice cold, and indeed it was. The Yankees went down on order the next three innings. Their only hit from the fifth inning onward was a Willie Calhoun ninth-inning single. (It was at least a good sign to see Volpe hit the ball hard in three of his at bats, and he netted two hits to show for his efforts.)
Nick Ramirez made his Yankees debut in the seventh and was the only effective Yankees pitcher tonight, throwing a scoreless seventh and eighth innings. Also of note, Anthony Rizzo went hitless and recorded three K’s including two uncharacteristic strikeouts looking at fastballs.
Seven singles just isn’t going to get it done in 2023 Major League Baseball. The Yankees go into the series finale tomorrow at Target Field trying to avoid their first sweep of the season. Domingo Germán will get the ball against Kenta Maeda with first pitch at 1:10pm ET.