|Gary Sanchez rounding third base after his home run in the seventh inning. Photo by Jason Schott.
The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 6-3, on Friday night in their return to Yankee Stadium, powered by two home runs from catcher Gary Sanchez.
Both were solo solo shots deep to left field and Sanchez now has 10 home runs and 20 RBI on the season. Even more impressive is the fact he has done this in 18 games with a stint on the 10-day injured list thrown in the middle.
Sanchez now has two multi-home run games this season (the first was on April 7 at Baltimore). He has 12 multi-home run games in 284 games in his career, the second-fastest player in Major League history to hit that mark after Ralph Kiner did it in 282 games.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of Sanchez hitting that milestone, "He's a gifted offensive player. It's not surprising, I mean, when you see the kind of swing he has and the way he's able to impact the ball, it's something that he's certainly capable of. It's why we expect a lot of him and demand a lot of him because we know he's capable of those kinds of things. His power's been big for us this year."
The Yankees' bullpen also did an incredible job, as they shut the Twins down for six innings after starting pitcher James Paxton had to leave following the third inning.
Paxton was diagnosed with left knee soreness and will have an MRI on Saturday.
Boone said he learned about Paxton's injury "kind of at the end of that inning. I felt like we saw him a couple times kind of flexing a little bit, didn't think much of it, then checked on him after that third inning, and just decided didn't want to risk anything too serious because it was bothering him a little bit tonight. It's been something that's been a little bit nagging throughout the year, not a big deal, but tonight was a little more sore consistently, so just decided we didn't want to risk anything."
The Yankees got on the board in the bottom of the first when Brett Gardner reached on an error when Twins center fielder Byron Buxton went for a diving catch and it went all the way to the fence.
Gardner got all the way to third base and scored on a Gleyber Torres RBI single to make it 1-0.
The Twins got to Paxton in the top of the second when C.J. Cron and Marwin Gonzalez each hit rockets up the middle for singles. Max Kepler then ground out to second, and after Jonathan Schoop walked to load the bases, Ehire Adrianza hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
The Yankees got another run in the second to go up 2-0 when Luke Voit got an RBI single to score Cameron Maybin, who walked earlier in the inning.
In the top of the third, with one out and a runner on, Jorge Polanco reached on a error by Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres, who was trying to transfer the ball from his glove and it just rolled out.
Paxton then walked Nelson Cruz before Cron hit a sacrifice fly to get Minnesota on the board and make it 2-1 Yankees before Gonzales lined to second base to end it.
After the lefty Paxton was pulled, a trio of right-handers came out of the Yankees bullpen, as Jonathan Holder came in and pitched two perfect innings to earn the win (he's now 2-0), followed by Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle, who each pitched a perfect inning.
|Jonathan Holder pitching to Byron Buxton in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.
This allowed the Yankees to open it up, as they got two in the fourth when Mike Tauchman reached on an error by the first baseman and scored on a wild pitch, and Maybin singled and scored on a groundout by Brett Gardner to make it 4-1.
Sanchez followed with solo home runs in the fifth and seventh innings to make it 6-1.
Zack Britton came on in the eighth, and he retired Mitch Garver to open the frame before Polanco then drew a walk to break a streak of the 16 straight Twins retired by Yankees pitchers.
Cruz then followed with a moon shot to left field that went into the front row behind the Minnesota bullpen to cut it to 6-3. That was the first Twin hit since Gonzalez liner in the second inning.
Aroldis Chapman came on to close it out in the ninth inning, and he worked around a leadoff hit by Gonzalez to earn his sixth save of the season.
Boone said of the job the Yankees bullpen did in this one, "Yeah, it was great, especially against a team like Minnesota that comes in here swinging the bats so well. They have a lot of dangerous guys up and down that lineup, so you know, really obviously had to lean on them tonight. Jonathan (Holder) came in and kind of set the tone with two really clean innings. You know, Tommy (Kahnle) was really good, Britt (Zack Britton) looked like he was cruising right along there and then the one swing obviously (Cruz's home run), and then Chappy (Chapman) finishing it off. Otto (Ottavino) coming in for the two righties (Cruz and Cron) there in the sixth, which was huge.
"Really good that they could pick us up in the way they did as we start this kind of long stretch. Not how you draw it up when you've got Pax (Paxton) going, but certainly a good win for us."