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Yankees can’t outslug Twins, fall 8-6 to open series

The ball was flying out of Target Field, but Minnesota got the edge tonight.

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

The Yankees left town just in time to avoid a large thunderstorm, but apparently there was a rising air current hiding in Minnesota. The ball flew out of the yard, and both teams took advantage of the opposing pitchers to launch home run after home run. In the end, the Twins were the ones walking away with the opening game.

The first inning started very promising for the Yankees, but quickly turned fruitless. DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge both walked to start the game, setting things up for Edwin Encarnacion to do damage. Encarnacion however hit a sharp groundball right to third, allowing the Twins to turn just the second triple play of 2019 to evade any damage:

Freed from the early jam, Minnesota spared no mercy to CC Sabathia. The veteran lefty got Mitch Garver to fly out to right for the first out, then surrendered back-to-back home runs to Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz. Just like that, New York was in an early deficit.

This game would be far from lifeless, though. The Yankees rallied back in the third, starting with a Gio Urshela solo shot to left-center. That blast gave Urshela ten home runs on the season, making him the ninth Yankee to do so this year and continuing to prove how deep their lineup is. The Yankees loaded the bases for Encarnacion, and the slugger rebounded with an RBI single to tie the game.

Minnesota wasted no time striking back, answering in the bottom of the inning. The first three batters all reached base, and Cruz’s bat collided with Gary Sanchez’s glove to draw catcher’s interference and allow a run to score. Eddie Rosario grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored another run, and Miguel Sano followed suit to extend the lead.

The home runs came back with a vengeance starting in the fourth inning. Luke Voit crushed a solo shot to right to cut into the lead, then Max Kepler and Mitch Garver cranked home runs of their own in the bottom half that increased Minnesota’s lead. Sabathia’s night was finished after this inning, concluding with an ugly line of six hits, seven runs (six earned), and four dingers allowed.

Mike Tauchman led off the fifth with a single to center that was decidedly not a home run, so DJ LeMahieu reminded him how to hit them by blasting one to left. Tauchman clearly preferred his singles however, since he hit another in the sixth that brought a run in and brought the Yankees within one run. Garver concluded the derby with another solo shot to left that gave Minnesota an 8-6 lead.

The Yankees had one last chance to rally in the ninth, putting runners on first and second with one out. Sanchez was unable to make contact though, and Aaron Hicks slapped a groundball right back to the pitcher to end the game.

The Yankees and Twins have been two of the most prolific home run hitting teams in the league, both during this season and in history, and they lived up to the matchup in the opening game of this series. Unfortunately, more of them fell for the Twins this time.