THE BRONX – The Yankees returned home to their first victory over a team with a record above .500 Friday, defeating the Minnesota Twins in 6-to-3 in the first game of a three-game set in the Bronx.
Gary Sánchez hit home runs Nos. 9 and 10 as part of a three-hit evening. The first was a majestic fly ball off Kyle Gibson, while No. 2 came two innings later off Mike Morin.
James Paxton lasted just three innings before being removed with left knee soreness. The team announced he would receive an MRI on Saturday. He walked three hitters, allowed one unearned run and two hits in his time on the mound.
Jonathan Holder wound up being the pitcher of record for the Yankees, throwing scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth and recording two strikeouts. Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle moved the game with a scoreless frame apiece through to the eighth, where Zack Britton had another blip in what has been a tough season for him to this point.
After recording the first two outs quickly, Britton walked Jorge Polanco and allowed a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz. He was able to strike out C.J. Cron to get out of any further trouble. Aroldis Chapman pitched around a leadoff single and one-out wild pitch to nail down his sixth save of the year.
The Yankees also got run-scoring contributions from Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit and Brett Gardner. In the first, Torres singled to score Gardner, who had reached on a three-base leadoff error by Byron Buxton in center field.
In the second, Voit singled to score Cameron Maybin (walk) before being thrown out at second base by Marwin González. Voit had also been gunned down by González at the plate to end the first inning.
Mike Tauchman led off the fourth inning with an E3 on Cron, then eventually came around to score on a Gibson wild pitch. After Maybin singled and Tyler Wade sacrificed, Gardner grounded out to score Maybin.
- Hold your breath while we figure out what’s up with James Paxton. He’s got a varied injury history but never anything with his knees. Aaron Boone told reporters that he’s “hopeful that it’s just some soreness”. “It’s frustrating, but I’m not real worried that it’s going to be something long-term,” Paxton said. “I think it’s going to be a pretty quick fix. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s going on so we can treat it and move forward.”
- It didn’t take very long for Gary Sánchez to get his power stroke back. After going 0-for-7 in his first two games off the injured list, Gary has four homers in his last five games. He pulled ahead of Luke Voit for the team lead after his second blast of the night.
- Mike Ford was optioned to Triple-A after the game, clearing the way for Miguel Andújar‘s surprising but very welcome return. The Yankees figure to give Andújar almost full-time designated hitter at-bats as they see how his shoulder reacts to the MLB grind. Ford showed impressive patience at the plate and now returns to Scranton with a slightly fatter wallet and lifetime health insurance.
- Jonathan Holder (I’ll say this cautiously) has had a decent rebound since his disastrous beginning to the season. He has not allowed a run since April 20, and gave the Yankees valuable length on a night where they had to pull their starter with injury. I still don’t like all the high-leverage usage he’s gotten, especially with how good Tommy Kahnle has looked so far. If Holder can settle into the two-inning relief slot rather than fireman role, that’d be ideal.
- DJ LeMahieu missed another game, but ran on the field and did defensive work before the game. He was available off the bench but was not needed. Boone thinks he could be in the lineup tomorrow.
- Giancarlo Stanton will have two more “light” days before ramping up his baseball activities Monday, per multiple reports from Aaron Boone. Stanton has not played since March 31 with biceps tendinitis and an unrelated shoulder issue.
- Aaron Hicks, who has played in a few Extended Spring Training games to this point, is apparently seven to 10 days away from a return. He has not played since early in Spring Training because of a nagging back issue that the team struggled to get under control.
- Troy Tulowitzki, who was removed from a rehab game with tightness in the left calf he strained earlier in the season, has been shut down indefinitely to deal with that flare up.
J.A. Happ, who has thrown three consecutive quality starts, looks for No. 4 against Jake Odorizzi in game two from the Bronx.