The Yankees had trouble doing so on Monday. They surrendered five home runs — four of them given up by starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia. Twins catcher Mitch Garver hit two.
The Yankees were also on the short end of some unusual plays. In the first inning, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion hit into the Yankees’ first triple play in two years. Two innings later, the Twins scored a run with the bases loaded when Gary Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference while Nelson Cruz was batting.
The biggest recent matchup between these two teams came during the 2017 playoffs. The Yankees won, 8-4, in the A.L. wild-card game thanks to home runs by Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and Gardner, as well as stout relief pitching after Luis Severino’s rough start. The win gave the Yankees a 13-2 postseason record against Minnesota.
The Twins then endured a rough 2018 season, finishing 78-84. Led by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the front office hired a rookie manager, Rocco Baldelli, and retooled the roster, pouncing on short-term deals for Cruz, the utility man Marwin Gonzalez, second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and Martin Perez, Monday’s starting pitcher, to supplement a young core.
Breakout seasons by younger players — Garver, Kepler and shortstop Jorge Polanco, who was suspended 80 games last season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug — have helped carry the team.
“I decided to come here because of the chance to go to the postseason,” said Cruz, who signed a one year, $14 million deal. “And thankfully, we’re in a good situation and in the midst of the playoff fight.”
The Twins’ starting rotation, which ranked fourth in baseball with a 3.70 E.R.A. entering Monday, has been powered by two All-Stars, Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, who is scheduled to start against the Yankees on Wednesday. Despite strong pitching in July, the Yankees’ rotation ranked 12th with a 4.19 E.R.A., prompting the front office to seek an upgrade ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
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