MINNEAPOLIS — Nestor Curtis flinched and arched his neck toward the left field wall at Target Field, trailing Byron Buxton’s go-ahead home run in the sixth inning on Tuesday. With a supply short due to the Yankees’ sporadic offense, the drive looked as if it was going to be decisive.
In fact, Curtis walked off the field shortly after Buxton’s trip around the base zone, and Trevor Larnach fired a two-run blast on Ron Marinaccio as the Yankees absorbed a 6-2 loss to the Twins at Target Field, New York’s seventh defeat in 12 games. .
“There’s going to be ups and downs this season, and we’re definitely down,” said Anthony Volpe. “But I feel there is so much talent in this dressing room, and this line-up in particular, that we’ll come out of it if everyone keeps going.”
It was the Twins’ fourth win in six games against the Yankees this year, and clinching the season series. The Bombers haven’t lost a season series to Minnesota since 2001, when they dropped four of six games to a team that counted Corey Koski, Christian Guzman, and Torrey Hunter among its best players.
“I thought, up and down, there was better intent and better aggressiveness with the batters,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “Now we have to wrap up and get some guys rolling.”
After Monday’s series opener, Aaron Judge spoke of his belief that the club needed to take a more aggressive approach early in the matches. Facing Minnesota’s Joe Ryan, Judge helped in that regard, hitting his first leadoff single, advancing on a wild pitch and scoring on DJ LeMahieu.
There was an early lead on the board, but the Yankees couldn’t handle that pressure. Ryan sacked seven hits, all solos, and was primarily dependent on his fastball in a seven-hit performance as he became the Majors’ first five-game winner of the season.
“He definitely made adjustments and really started implementing later in the game,” said Volpe.
Another New York race came against Ryan in fifth place. It was a gift, as Aaron Hicks scored on a potential double play ball by the judge, whose punt throw skipped first baseman Donovan Solano.
“we’ve got [had] Lots of single and second runs [outputs]and that doesn’t lend itself to much margin for error in the mound,” Boone said. “We have to change it.”
A third period error by Volpe (the rookie’s third in three games) opened the door for Solano and Jorge Polanco to hit a double on the left line from Curtis. Boone said the ball, hit by Michael A. Taylor, was a “do-or-die play” because of its backspin.
“It had a weird spin, but it’s still soft enough that I have to keep holding it and do the play,” said Volpi.
Curtis rated his start as “average”, as he had four runs batted in (three earned) and five hits over five innings pitched.
“I feel like I could have done a better job of positioning the inside of the plate in that last inning,” Curtis said.
With Curtis on 88 pitched over five innings, Boone sent his pitcher to the mound. As the captain later explained: “He’s got to go. We can’t run to the mall at innings on the fourth or fifth every night in April. We hide from our men.”
Curtis drugged a fastball that Polanco pinned against the wall in left center field to drive out of frame; Hicks was unable to secure the ball, which Statcast calculated had a 30 percent probability of catching, and was down to a double. This was followed by Buxton drawing the cutter to the benches in left field, marking the blast by turning his bat.
Boone said, “We have to build a little bit on today and the fact that this was better than yesterday, but we have to hang some of the quirky numbers in there, bottom line.”
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