MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The starting pitching has been so dominant for the New York Yankees this year, it has almost overshadowed another potent offense that leads the major leagues in home runs.
With Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton in the heart of the order, well, there’s just no hiding this familiarly loaded lineup.
Rizzo hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to crack open a close game for the Yankees, who brushed off a rare rough start by Jameson Taillon to beat the Minnesota Twins 10-4 on Tuesday night for their seventh straight victory.
“We can win in a lot of different ways, and tonight was just another one of those examples,” said Taillon, who gave up season highs in hits (nine) and runs (four).
Judge and Stanton got the visitors going with first-inning homers, the 23rd time they’ve gone deep in the same game in five seasons together. The Yankees have only lost once when that happens, in the Field of Dreams game in Iowa last Aug. 12.
“Nobody has to feel like they’ve got to do everything,” said Judge, who leads the majors with 22 home runs. “Hey, if we don’t get a hit or get the job done that time, I know the guy behind me is going to pick it up.”
The Yankees (40-15) lead the majors with the best 55-game record in baseball since Seattle in 2001. That’s actually a lower winning percentage than the astounding 110-38 record the Yankees have built, including the playoffs, against the Twins since 2002. They are 32-12 all-time at Target Field, which the Twins opened in 2010.
Taillon, who took a perfect game through seven innings in his last start, was pulled with no outs in the fifth. Jorge Polanco went 4 for 4 with two RBIs, including a homer off Taillon that was the first allowed by a Yankees pitcher in six games. Lucas Luetge (2-2) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the awarded victory in relief.
MOUND OF TROUBLE
The Yankees pounded Twins rookie Cole Sands (0-2), a rotation fill-in with seven starting pitchers currently out with either injuries or COVID-19, for eight of their 14 hits over the right-hander’s 3 2/3 innings. Every starter had at least one, including three by leadoff man DJ LeMahieu. He also walked twice, once with the bases loaded to force in a run in the fifth.
LeMahieu singled on the first pitch of the game. Judge followed by crushing a 2-2 fastball into the wall of junipers that serves as the batter’s eye behind center field, and he drove in a run with a single in the fourth to raise his team-leading RBI total to 43. That’s second in the American League behind Cleveland’s José Ramírez.
Rizzo hit his 14th homer of the season off Tyler Duffey. Manager Rocco Baldelli was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Alex Tosi in the seventh, a fitting end to a frustrating night.
“Lately it’s just not happening. Stuff feels great. When it’s on, it’s on. But it’s frustrating, obviously,” said Duffey, who has allowed 11 runs and three homers in his last seven innings.
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The Yankees have thrived despite rough stretches at the plate by outfielders Aaron Hicks and Joey Gallo, who went a combined 4 for 7 with three runs, three walks and an RBI.
“They’re capable of big things,” Boone said. “They’re giving us some balance in our lineup, some athleticism obviously, so it’s good to see them have those kind of at-bats.”
Josh Donaldson had a single, a walk and one of a season-high three errors by the Yankees, getting a mild round of boos each time his name was announced.
The Twins dealt Donaldson and the $50 million and two years remaining on his contract with shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who’d been acquired in a separate trade with Texas the day before, to the Yankees on March 13 for slugging catcher Gary Sánchez and third baseman Gio Urshela.
Donaldson signed with the Twins for $92 million over four years on Jan. 14, 2020, but he was dogged again by leg muscle injuries and ultimately wasn’t a fit in the clubhouse with his brash presence and outspoken personality.
“They’re in a good position now, and I’m in a good position here with the New York Yankees,” Donaldson said. “Hindsight is 20/20.”
Sánchez has done well for himself with the fresh start following a couple of rough seasons.
“Everybody’s been very welcoming to me,” he said.
Yankees: Stanton was the DH again, his second start since returning from a nine-game absence because of right ankle inflammation. He last played RF on May 22.
Twins: 1B Luis Arraez left the game with right shoulder tightness. … OF Kyle Garlick went on the 10-day IL with a strained left hamstring, retroactive to Saturday. He’s one of 16 players currently inactive due to injury or COVID-19, and 10 of them have been sidelined in just the last three weeks. This is Garlick’s second IL stint. He missed 13 games with a strained right calf last month.
Yankees: LHP Nortes Cortes (5-1, 1.50 ERA) takes the mound on Wednesday night. Cortes threw seven scoreless innings in his last start and has allowed two or fewer runs in all but one outing.
Twins: RHP Chris Archer (0-2, 3.89 ERA) pitches the middle game of the series, coming off a season-long five-inning turn. Archer has a 3.08 ERA in 19 career starts against the Yankees.