In a line-up that features known 3 major power hitters, 2 of them Home Run Derby champions and the other a semi-finalist, who would have thought the biggest hitter (by average), MLB RBI leader, and team home run leader (2nd in all MLB) so far this season would be Didi Gregorius? In fact, while Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez are finally all hitting and playing well again, it’s Gregorius to lead the rest of the team and they all seem to be following suit in their own way (like we’ve seen from the likes of Andujar, Torreyes, and Austin — not bad for “bench players”).
Anyway, in Game 3 of this 4-game series against the Twins, the Yankees followed red-hot Gregorius as they dominated the visitors again tonight. Even though starter Sonny Gray continued his struggled, the Yankee defense and bats were there to help lift him up. (Something he may not get away with against a better team.) Gray threw a whopping 104 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 6 hits, 5 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 4 batters.
In the 1st, a batter worked a 1-out walk and then scored as part of a 2-run homer to get the Twins on the board early. Gray faltered a little, but kept things tight until he loaded up the bases with consecutive singles in the 4th. The next batter hit into a short grounder and the Yankees’ defense was only able to get the out at 2nd, so a run scored. Chad Green completed the 5th inning for Gray and sailed through the 6th before running into a spot of trouble in the 7th — a lead-off double, a walk, a strikeout, an RBI single, and a single to load the bases.
That would be it for Green, and Shreve came on for strength getting 2 quick outs to close out the inning in just 6 pitches and unscathed. Robertson powered his way through the 8th inning in just 14 pitches before handing the game to Chapman who closed out a scoreless 9th. Well, after a short review of the final play that is.
After the Twins got on the board early, the Yankees found their chances to advance when they could. In the 1st, Gardner singled, moved to 3rd on Judge’s single, and then scored the Yankees’ first run of the night on Didi Gregorius’ single. Gregorius came back in the 3rd to hit his 9th homer of the season, a solid solo shot into the right field seats to tie up the game at that point. Stanton followed that up with a single and Sanchez worked a walk, and then they both scored on Tyler Austin’s nice left-field 3-run home run to give the Yankees a solid lead.
In the 4th, Romine led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd on Torres’ double before getting thrown out on a fielder’s choice at home. Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly then scored Torres. It’s worth noting the Twins’ starter intentionally walked Gregorius for his final batter, a good choice as the next batter hit into a fly ball out after a bit of a battle in the at-bat.
Following this, the Twins’ bullpen kept the Yankees from doing much to add to their lead, keeping them scoreless for the next few innings. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that the Yankees found another chance. Torres led-off with a single and advanced to 2nd on Gardner’s sacrifice bunt out. The reliever intentionally walked Judge and then (unintentionally?) walked Gregorius to load up the bases. Giancarlo Stanton hit a long sacrifice fly that scored Torres, and Sanchez’s walk loaded the bases again. And once again, a fly out ended hopes for a further lead. But it would be enough.
Final score: 7-4 Yankees
The final game of this series and home stand will be tomorrow afternoon, that rare Thursday matinée. It’s scheduled as such because the Yankees have to catch a flight to California to face the Angels this weekend. You ready for the first West Coast Week of the season? (aka 10pm EST game starts)
It’s also worth noting that the weather progressively got grayer over the game, with a sort of low fog settling into the stadium (as you can see on the included video clips). It was kind of damp and hazy towards the end. An interesting way to play a ball game, as I’m sure it was progressively more difficult to see those fly balls to make the necessary outs and plays. But those professional athletes just power on and power through.