Predictably, the Twins just needed to see the Yankees to put together a complete game on both sides of the ball.
After losing six of their last eight games, the Twins welcomed the hated New York Yankees to town and proceeded to dominate all nine innings on Monday at Target Field.
The Twins scored first after loading the bases in the bottom of the third inning on a Christian Vazquez walk and singles from Michael A. Taylor and Max Kepler. Carlos Correa struck out, but Jorge Polanco came through by lacing a single through the right side and riving in two runs. Byron Buxton smacked a line drive off of pitcher Jhony Brito, who recovered and threw Buxton out, but not before a third Twins run scored.
On the other side of things, Sonny Gray was magnificent. He faced the minimum through three innings before giving up a one-out double to Aaron Judge in the fourth. But he capped the inning with a groundout and a strikeout, preserving the Twins’ 3-0 lead.
Joey Gallo lead off the home half of the fourth with a mammoth home run into the grandstand in right-center. The Twins put runners on the corners after a Taylor walk and stolen base and a hard single from Max Kepler, but Correa struck out again and Kepler was thrown out at second in a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play.
Gray again faced the minimum in the top of fifth, in part thanks to a fantastic defensive play from Joey Gallo, who stepped on first base and fired to Correa at second for the tag on D.J. LeMahieu and the end of the inning. The Twins loaded the bases once again the next time up but Vazquez lined out to left field.
Gray only gave up a walk in the sixth and one in the seventh and that was it for Yankees baserunners. He capped his evening with his 107th pitch and a strikeout of Franchy Cordero, living up to his pre-season comments about the Twins’ starters needing to pitch deeper into games.
For their part, the Twins added single runs in the sixth (Taylor single, Kepler force out/throwing error and a Polanco bloop double) and the eighth (Kepler single, Correa triple to the right-field warning track) as Griffin Jax survived an eventful eighth.
The Twins took a 6-0 lead into the ninth inning and gave the mound to Jovani Moran. Moran promptly walked the first batter and fell behind 2-0 to LeMahieu, who lashed a single to left-center. He then walked pinch-hitter (and former one-day Twin) Isiah Kiner-Falefa to load the bases. But Moran got Oswaldo Cabrera to ground into a force-out to Jose Miranda at third base, followed by a fly out and strikeout to end the game.
- Gray was fantastic, commanding all his pitches and keeping the Yankees completely off balance. Except for the last couple of innings, it was an extremely efficient performance as well. For the season, Gray has now only given up two earned runs across 29 innings pitched — an ERA of 0.62.
- Kepler swung the bat extremely well in his return to the leadoff spot. If he can somehow find something resembling the 2019 version of himself, it completely changes the dynamic of the Twins’ offense.
- Correa looked relatively lost at the plate until his long fly ball to the right-field track in the bottom of the eighth. It was still something of a gift triple that probably should have been caught by Cordero, but hopefully it will kick-start him.
- The Twins stole a base! It was only their second of the season, and they both belong to Taylor. Strangely, they also logged a caught stealing in the same frame.
- Every Twins batter either reached base or had an RBI in this game.
- On the negative side, both Jax and Moran were shaky. On the plus side, the Twins didn’t have to use Jorge Lopez or Jhoan Duran.
- Minnesota has only given up two runs in their last two games — a welcome sight after given up 11 to the Red Sox on Thursday and 10 to the Nationals on Saturday.
- Sonny Gray: 7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 8 K 2 BB
- Max Kepler: 3-for-5, 3 R
- Jorge Polanco: 2-for-5, 3 RBI, 2B
- Joey Gallo: 1-for-3, HR, R, BB
- Moran tried to make it on the list, but — no duds tonight. Twins win! Twins win!