This wasn’t the Yankees-Twins series of old, but the Bombers still got the job done. New York took the rubber match on the strength of their bats, and in particular the stellar play of Didi Gregorius. Sir Didi sat out in the opening game of the series before going off on the Twins yesterday, and the hot streak carried over with a three-hit, three-RBI performance.
The pitching matchup featured a mismatch against the Yankees, with J.A. Happ and his homer-prone season facing Jake Odorizzi. Happ got off on the wrong foot in the first inning, allowing a two-out single to Nelson Cruz and a two-run bomb off the bat of Eddie Rosario.
Odorizzi gave the runs back with interest in the second however, surrendering doubles to Edwin Encarnacion and Gregorius and a triple to Mike Tauchman that put the Yankees on top. Romine lifted a sac fly to bring home a fourth run before the inning ended, and the Bombers were in business early.
Minnesota cut into the lead in the bottom half of the frame, but the Yankees showed off their power in the third. Aaron Hicks led off the inning with a home run, and Gleyber Torres launched a solo shot three batters later for his 20th home run of the season. The runs continued in the fourth, with Hicks knocking an RBI single to right. Gregorius broke the game open with a triple over Jake Cave’s head in center, driving home two and giving the Yankees a commanding 9-3 lead.
Commanding leads haven’t lasted long in this series, however, and it didn’t last long again. Happ allowed the first four batters of the inning to reach base, including a two-run home run to Marvin Gonzalez.
Nestor Cortes Jr. came on in relief, but allowed another run on a sacrifice fly that quickly made it 9-6. Nelson Cruz led off the fifth inning with a home run, and suddenly the lead was in jeopardy.
Cortes managed to hang around though, and he gave the Yankees some desperately needed innings. Cortes lasted 3.1 innings on 54 pitches and exited with two runners on base in the seventh, handing the ball over to Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle shut the door on the Twins in his 1.1 innings of work, picking up three three-pitch strikeouts. An Encarnacion solo shot gave the Yankees a much-needed insurance run, and then Aroldis Chapman closed things out in the ninth.
The Yankees will hustle out of Minnesota with the victory in hand, and board a flight for Boston and a big four-game series with the Sox. The bullpen was taxed significantly during this series, but the work of Cortes and Kahnle saved some firepower for the Bombers to put towards Fenway.