Thursday, June 6, 2024

Yankees Take Care of Twins With Dodgers Duel On Tap

Aaron Judge coming in to score on Gleyber Torres' third-inning double. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees completed their sweep of the Minnesota Twins with an 8-5 win on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. This gives the Yankees an eight-game winning streak as they run their Major League-best record to 45-19, their second-best start since 1999.

The Yankees didn't just take all three of these games, but also went a perfect 6-0 in the the season series against the Twins, a team they have thoroughly dominated for two decades. 

It is just the ninth time in franchise history that the Yankees went 6-0 or better against an opponent and the fourth time against Minnesota (6-0 in 2002 and 7-0 in 2003 and 2009). 

The Yankees are now 22-7 in their last 29 games with the Twins going back to July 23, 2019, and 32-11 in the 43 games dating back to September 18, 2017. They have won or split 10 of their last 11 series with Minnesota (9-1-1 since 2019) and 17 of their last 20 (16-3-1 since July 3, 2014).

The star of Thursday night's game was Trent Grisham, who made the most of his rare start in center field. He blasted a two-run homer to right field in the second inning off Twins starter Pedro Lopez to make it 2-1 Yankees at the time. It was his second home run of the season.

Trent Grisham at the dugout after his second inning home run. Photo by Jason Schott.

Grisham then had a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning to make it 8-5 just before the game was delayed due to rain.

After Grisham's home run in the second, Minnesota tied it in the third when Christian Vazquez drilled a solo shot to center field off Yankee starter Marcus Stroman to tie the game at 2.

In the bottom half of the third, Lopez completely lost the plate, as he opened the inning by walking Juan Soto, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton. Then, with one out, Gleyber Torres hit a cue shot past first base for a double to bring in a pair of runs, followed by a sacrifice fly from Austin Wells to make it 5-2. 

In the fourth, the Yankees had two runners on with one out after Anthony Volpe singled and Aaron Judge walked. They executed a double-steal to perfection, with Vazquez uncorking one into left field, allowing Volpe to score. Judge then came in on an RBI single from Stanton that made it 7-2 Yankees.

The two walks by Judge means he has now reached base safely in a season-high 32 straight games, going back to May 2. This matches the second-longest streak of his career, trailing only a 45-game run from August 29, 2022 to April 12, 2023. The other 32-game stretch came in his Rookie of the Year campaign, from May 28 to June 30, 2017.

Stroman had an up-and-down night that led him to struggle in the fifth inning, and lead the Yankees to pull him with two outs in the frame, just one short of a victory. He went 4 2/3 innings, in which he allowed five runs (all earned) on six hits and two walks, with two strikeouts.

Ian Hamilton came on to finish up the fifth, and he allowed a Carlos Santana RBI single that made it 7-5 Yankees before getting Kyle Farmer to bounce into a force to end the inning.

Hamilton did not come back after the 56-minute rain delay, so Victor Gonzalez got the first two outs in the sixth inning before yielding to Luke Weaver.

In addition to getting the final out of the sixth, Weaver pitched a scoreless seventh, and as a result, he was awarded the victory, improving his record to 4-1 on the season. Once the starter can't get the win, it is the official scorer's discretion who to award it to.

THIS WEEKEND: The Yankees will be hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers (39-25, first place, National League West) in a much-anticipated three-game series beginning on Friday night.

The pitching matchups are as follows:

Friday at 7:05 p.m.: Dodgers - Yoshinobu Yamamoto (6-2, 3.32 ERA) vs. Yankees - Cody Poteet (2-0, 2.45 ERA)

Saturday at 7:35 p.m.: Dodgers - Gavin Stone (6-2, 2.90 ERA) vs. Yankees - Nestor Cortes (3-4, 3.46)

Sunday at 7:10 p.m.: Dodgers - Tyler Glasnow (6-4, 2.93 ERA) vs. Yankees - Luis Gil (8-1, 1.82 ERA)

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was asked about the big series on Thursday afternoon, and he said, “I think it’s going to be an amazing atmosphere. You know, we’ve gone twice since I’ve here out to L.A. in the summer and it’s been really cool going to Dodger Stadium, seeing that matchup and the buzz around it. I would imagine it’s going to be every bit of that and maybe more. Both teams obviously really good, a lot of star players, we’re into the summer now, sort of, weekend series, I would expect it be a pretty special environment.”

This will be the Dodgers’ first trip into Yankee Stadium since September of 2016, while the Yankees have played them at Dodger Stadium in 2019 and ‘23.

The biggest difference this year is the Dodgers feature Shohei Ohtani, one of the biggest attractions in baseball. The two-way superstar, who won’t be pitching this season, is hitting .318 with 15 home runs and 40 RBI.

Boone said of what he thinks is the most impressive thing Ohtani does, “Probably just his athleticism, I mean, it’s just so much power and speed, like to watch him run, to watch, you know, that kind of stretch he creates, torque he’s able to create at the plate, and obviously, generate massive power, is a pretty special combination. And, then, we haven’t even talked about him on the mound, where he’s a frontline starting pitcher. 

“Certainly nothing like I’ve ever seen, but I would say the biggest thing that’s jaw-dropping, just the athleticism and the physicality of him.”

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