MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mitch Garver hit two of Minnesota’s five home runs, and the Twins held on for an 8-6 victory over the New York Yankees after a tone-setting triple play in the first inning of a series opener between AL division leaders Monday night.
Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler also went deep, giving the Twins their eighth game with five or more homers this season. All but Garver’s second solo shot came off starter CC Sabathia (5-5), who lasted only four innings.
Martín Pérez was hit just as hard, serving up home runs to Gio Urshela in the third, Luke Voit in the fourth and AL batting leader DJ LeMahieu in the fifth, a two-run drive that cut the deficit to 7-5.
Nine of the last 13 batters against Pérez reached, with 14 total bases, and he left after failing to get an out in the fifth. LeMahieu went 3 for 4 to raise his batting average to .338, and the Yankees hit multiple homers for the 20th time in 29 games.
The deciding factor, then, was those sharp grounders, starting with Edwin Encarnación after back-to-back walks drawn by LeMahieu and Aaron Judge. The ball went straight to third baseman Luis Arraez, who stepped on the bag and whipped the ball to second baseman Jonathan Schoop in the same motion to barely get Judge. Then the relay to first baseman Miguel Sanó beat Encarnación by a step.
Gary Sánchez grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third. Judge did the same in the sixth against rookie Lewis Thorpe (1-1), who got his first major league win with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
Taylor Rogers earned his 15th save despite allowing singles to Judge and Encarnación.
After the Twins lost four of their first six games on this homestand, with the bullpen blowing late leads multiple times, their longtime nemesis arrived at an inopportune time. No opponent drives fan angst like the Yanks, who always have thousands of their own cheerers in attendance. The Twins improved to just 37-98 against the Yankees since 2002, including a 2-13 record in the postseason.
THREE’S A CROWD FAVORITE
The triple play by the Twins was their first in more than two years, since Sanó went around the horn to Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer against the Los Angeles Angels on June 1, 2017. Since becoming the only team in history to turn three twice in the same game, in 1990 against the Red Sox, the Twins have logged only three triple plays. This one notably came against Encarnación, whose 16 homers at Target Field are the second-most by a visiting player. He has 91 RBIs in 92 career games against the Twins.
The Yankees had also gone two years without hitting into a triple play. Todd Frazier was the last guilty party, on July 25, 2017, against the Cincinnati Reds.
Yankees: LF Brett Gardner was on the bench for the second straight game because of inflammation in his left knee, the result of a sliding catch he made Saturday. Gardner took pregame batting practice in the cages, and manager Aaron Boone said Gardner would be available in a pinch but that he’d prefer to give him more rest.
Twins: Just five days after being reinstated, 1B C.J. Cron returned to the injured list with inflammation in his right thumb, an injury that has hampered him for more than a month. CF Byron Buxton was eligible for activation, and manager Rocco Baldelli said Buxton’s concussion-like symptoms had cleared, but the Twins opted for caution and more time. Thorpe came up from Triple-A Rochester instead, and RHP Cody Stashak joined him on the shuttle. RHP Zack Littell was sent down.
Yankees: RHP Domingo Germán (12-3, 3.38 ERA) pitches Tuesday night, potentially aiming to become the first 13-game winner in the majors — pending Stephen Strasburg’s outing for Washington. Germán is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA since returning from the injured list for a strained left hip flexor.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (9-4, 4.02) takes the mound for the middle game of the series. Gibson is 6-1 with a 3.71 ERA and a .210 batting average against in 10 appearances at home this season.
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