For six innings, the Minnesota Twins managed to keep things close. That’s where everything came to a screeching halt.
The New York Yankees batted around in the seventh, pushing across six runs to turn a 1-0 lead into a 7-2 win at Target Field on Monday night. The win was No. 90 on the year for the Yankees, who still trail the Red Sox by eight games in the AL East.
The Twins have lost eight straight games to the Yankees, and have been outscored 51-17 in the process.
Kyle Gibson battled his command all night long, but gave the Twins 5 2/3 respectable innings — four hits, one earned run, five strikeouts and four walks — before handing the ball over to Trevor May, who worked around a walk to keep the deficit 1-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
The one run came in the fifth inning, when Gary Sanchez — mired in the season-long slump that saw him hitting under .200 for the season in nearly 300 plate appearances — hit a mammoth home run into the third deck in left field off a 94 mph fastball from Gibson.
Statcast had the home run at 460 feet — eerily reminiscent to Miguel Sano’s home run on Aug. 25 against Oakland’s Mike Fiers which checked in at 455 feet.
“When you get a pitch, and throw that pitch where you really wanted to — which that pitch, really, was — when a guy puts a barrel on it, that just shows you it was the wrong pitch at the wrong time,” Gibson said of the home run given up to Sanchez.
Gibson — who threw 118 pitches before departing — finished the first inning with more balls than strikes and threw just 11 first-pitch strikes to 25 batters faced.
Gibson said it wasn’t a specific pitch that was spotty for him early, however.
“(I) probably went in and out on everything,” Gibson conceded. “(I) threw a couple good sliders, then I would yank a slider. Had a couple curveballs on the first pitch I was trying to just lay in the zone and threw it too much down and away. The fastball was kind of in and out. There would be times on 2-0 I threw a glove-side fastball where I wanted to, just down and away.
“I think there was a little bit of trying to do too much from time to time and allowing my body to take over a little bit instead of quieting that down and just executing pitch.”
After the Twins were unable to move Logan Forsythe off first base after his one-out single in the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees went to work the next half-inning.
Andrew McCutchen and former Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks opened the inning with back-to-back walks, and those were followed with back-to-back-to-back doubles from Miguel Andujar, Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius — the first two coming against reliever Alan Busenitz — to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead.
Busenitz faced four batters, started all of them with ball one and did not record an out before getting hooked in favor of Andrew Vasquez, who gave up the Gregorius double before he was lifted for Matt Magill. Busenitz was charged with four earned runs, pushing his season ERA up to 6.56.
Petit ➡ Forsythe ➡ Mauer
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) September 11, 2018
The lead was pushed to 7-0 with an RBI single from Gleyber Torres as well as a sacrifice fly from McCutchen. The final damage on the inning?
- 12 Yankees came to the plate
- 4 walks (including Hicks, twice)
- 5 hits (three doubles)
- 6 runs
In all, Twins pitchers issued 10 walks on the night — a fact that clearly displeased manager Paul Molitor.
“As a whole, 10 walks or whatever it was — you just can’t win at this level when you’re giving that many opportunities and baserunners,” the manager lamented. “We paid the price. They scored quickly. A couple of walks and a couple really well-struck balls. We couldn’t find a way to close out that inning before they put up six. It was good for a while, but it sure didn’t end well.”
After Yankees starter J.A. Happ was lifted, the Twins managed to push across a pair of runs in the eighth inning against Luis Cessa, who threw 45 pitches in his two innings of work and gave up an RBI double to Robbie Grossman and a run-scoring groundout to Mitch Garver.
Happ wasn’t overpowering, but kept the Twins off-balance over six shutout innings, scattering six hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) September 11, 2018
“I think that’s how he’s been throwing,” Molitor said of what made Happ difficult despite the fact that he isn’t much of a flamethrower. “He does a nice job pounding that ball down in the zone early, but he sure can elevate effectively. We had a lot of guys get under pitches at the top of the zone and hit some lazy fly balls. His changeup wasn’t great tonight, but he pitched around that. The slider kind of came in the mix more the second time around. Once they got the lead, they got him out.
“We had a couple opportunities to get a knock with runners in scoring position, and we just couldn’t find a way to get on the board to give Gibby any kind of a lead to work with.”
- Molitor said after the game that Tyler Duffey will be the opener for Saturday’s game. Sonny Gray will start for the Yankees. Duffey will go 1-2 innings based on how things go, Molitor said, and the plan behind him will develop from there.
- The Twins are 16-16 against AL East opponents this year, and 41-31 at home.
- Gibson induced his 20th groundball double play of the season on Monday night — marking five years in a row he’s gotten at least 20.
- Jorge Polanco had his 15th multi-hit game of the season on Monday night. Forsythe had his 18th, and Grossman his 24th.
- Minnesota’s High-A team — the Fort Myers Miracle — won the Florida State League title by a 3-1 margin with an 8-5 victory over Daytona on Monday night. Ryan Costello — acquired in the Zach Duke trade — hit a three-run homer in the third inning to give the Miracle the lead in the