It was the moment Oswaldo Cabrera surely dreamed of and he delivered for the Yankees in the first game of a doubleheader with the Minnesota Twins.
With runners in scoring position and New York down to its final out of the bottom of the 12, Cabrera hit a groundball into left field to drive home the winning run and secure the 4-3 win. Cabrera battled through the six-pitch at-bat fouling off the ball three times before finally sending the ball fair.
“He had a good at-bat early in the game with runners in scoring position where he smoked the ball and (Nick) Gordan made the play on the shift,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said about Cabrera. “He’s had a competitive at-bat up until even that last one I thought he made a good adjustment. (Trevor) Megill is tough on lefties there with that up heater and breaking ball. I think he got to that breaking ball a little bit with two strikes to kind of foul it and got him back to a pitch in the zone. Just a good job of going with it.
“Love (Cabrera’s) poise and his make-up. He’s not afraid and more great defensive plays tonight.”
The win was the Yankees’ third straight and came at a crucial time with the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays gaining ground in the AL East. The victory came with the Yankees also having to field a surprising roster in the first game with three rookies in the lineup.
The game-winning hit was set up earlier in the game when Isiah Kiner-Falefa was able to drive in Marwin Gonzalez, who had started the 12th on second base, with a single to center field.
The Yankees and Twins each had chances to end the game quickly, with New York squandering a chance in the bottom of the ninth and a baserunning miscue in the top of the 10th preventing Minnesota from scoring. Tim Locastro got caught stealing second base in the ninth and then after Kiner-Falefa reached third stealing, Estevan Florial grounded out to short despite hustling to first in an attempt to beat out the throw.
Another opportunity was squandered when Cabrera grounded into a double play in the bottom of the 10th with a pair of runners on base.
The Yankees fell behind quickly in the opening game against the Twins. Luis Arraez doubled to kick things off, driving a 1-0 sinker into center field.
It was quickly followed by a two-run home run two batters later by Jose Miranda. The Twins’ third baseman sent the ball 345 feet over the left field wall to put Minnesota ahead 2-0 in the first inning of the game.
The Twins built on their lead in the fourth when they added another run. Jake Cave singled with two outs to keep the top half of the inning alive and former Yankee Gary Sanchez lined a single to center to put Cave in scoring position.
A single by Gilberto Celestino scored the run and extended the Twins’ lead over New York to three.
The Yankees did manage to get a run back in the bottom half of the fourth when Aaron Judge sent his 55th home run of the season into left field. The solo blast marked the fourth consecutive game that Judge had hit a home run and moved him closer to Roger Maris’ home run record of 61 that he set in 1961.
It also moved Judge passed former Yankee Alex Rodriguez for most home runs by a right-hander in franchise history.
New York wasn’t done just yet in the bottom of the sixth still trailing by two. Oswald Peraza, who had recorded his first MLB hit earlier in the game, singled to start the inning, however, things turn a turn when the next two Yankees batters struck out and grounded out.
But down 1-2 in the count and two outs on the board, Gleyber Torres sent his 19th home run of the year to left field to tie the game at three.
The twins looked as though they had won it in the 12th when reliever Ron Marinaccio walked Cave to start the inning and two batters later Celestino singled to drive home the go-ahead run in a similar fashion to the RBI he had earlier in the game.