Aaron Judge drives in 3, helps Yankees avoid sweep at Twins

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge hits a three-run double during the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Wednesday, April 26, 2023, in Minneapolis.
AP Photo/Abbie Parr

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Aaron Judge had three hits and three RBIs and dodged an injury scare on his eventful 31st birthday, helping the New York Yankees avoid a sweep and beat the Minnesota Twins 12-6 on Wednesday.

Gleyber Torres drove a two-run homer into the second deck in a six-run fourth inning against Kenta Maeda (0-4), who left the mound with Twins athletic trainer Nick Paparesta for the second straight start. He was tagged with a career-worst 11 hits and 10 runs.

Anthony Volpe and Anthony Rizzo each had two-run doubles in the fateful fourth for Maeda, as the lagging and injury-limited Yankees lineup posted season highs in hits (14) and runs (12). They totaled only eight runs over their previous five games, losing four.

Judge surprisingly tried to steal third base in the second inning after a three-run double, and he was thrown out on an awkward head-first slide as his shoulders lurched forward ahead of his arms. His right hand was jammed into the dirt underneath the weight of his body, and he jogged without stopping off the diamond and up the tunnel to the clubhouse, causing concerned looks in the dugout.

Still squeezing and flexing his wrist upon his return to the bench, Judge — who was conveniently taking a turn as the designated hitter — stayed in the game and walked in his next at-bat. That was the most important development of an encouraging game for the Yankees, whose $360 million slugger set the American League record with 62 home runs last season. They’d be in trouble if Judge had to join Harrison Bader, Josh Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton and a slew of pitchers on the injured list.

Judge is batting .316 with 31 runs, 12 doubles, 10 homers, 28 RBIs and 31 walks in 33 career starts against the Twins, reaching base in all but one of those games.

Jose Miranda homered twice and Joey Gallo also went deep against Yankees starter Domingo Germán (2-2), who pitched into the seventh inning with five hits and six runs allowed.

The Twins secured the season series with their 6-2 win on Tuesday, their first over the Yankees since 2001. The Twins still haven’t swept a single series from their biggest nemesis since a two-game set at the Metrodome in 1998.

Germán beat the Twins at Yankee Stadium on April 15, when he had 11 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings with just one run allowed and the Twins believed he was pitching with excess rosin on his hand. An umpire checked his hands extensively after the third and before the fourth, when Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was ejected after angrily complaining that the umpires didn’t make Germán fully wash off the sticky stuff by allowing some to stay on his pinkie.

Maeda, who went 19 months between starts before his first of this season because of Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, was struck on April 20 in Boston by an 111 mph line drive off the bat of Jarren Duran. He described the experience through his interpreter afterward as excruciatingly painful. That turn had been pushed back to give him extra rest for some mild arm fatigue he’d been feeling in the early stage of his comeback.

For more on the Yankees, visit AMNY.com