MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Joe Mauer hit a grand slam to highlight a six-run fifth inning, and the Minnesota Twins beat New York for the first time in 10 meetings with a 10-5 victory on Tuesday night after another flop in the Yankees’ starting rotation by Sonny Gray.
Didi Gregorious answered Mauer’s big bop with his own grand slam in the sixth. That was the only bright spot for the Yankees, who dropped nine games behind Boston in the AL East race and had their lead over Oakland for the first wild card spot cut to two games. The major league leaders in home runs with 234, the Yankees fell to 80-36 in games when they go deep.
Gray was dropped from the rotation in early August with an 8-8 record and 5.56 ERA. He pitched more aggressively in four relief appearances, then returned to the rotation for a spot start and took a shutout into the seventh inning at Baltimore on Aug. 25. He made one more relief appearances and was given the start against the Twins to allow the rotation an extra day of rest.
Gray (10-9) lasted three innings and allowed three runs — two earned — four hits and three walks. Gregorius tripled and scored on Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly for a second-inning lead, but Gray gave it back in a three-run third.
Jonathan Loaisiga fared even worse, forcing in a run with a bases-loaded walk to Max Kepler in the fifth. Boone appeared to argue with plate umpire James Hoye that the third ball to Kepler actually grazed his bat for a foul ball. Three batters later, Mauer crushed a full-count fastball to center field where it landed in the berm beyond the wall. He came out for a curtain call after his fifth career grand slam, tying Tony Oliva for fourth place in Twins history with 597 extra-base hits.
The Yankees are 83-32 against the Twins in the regular season since the start of 2002. They’re 13-2 in the playoffs, including the 2017 wild card game.
Kohl Stewart (1-1) earned his first major league victory after following reliever Tyler Duffey, who served as a bullpen opener for the third time this month as the Twins experiment with one of baseball’s latest trends. This was their first win with the arrangement.
Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge missed his 44th game after being hit by a pitch that broke his right wrist, but for the second straight afternoon he put on a powerful batting practice display in addition to some defensive drills. Boone declined to divulge a specific timeline for Judge’s return to the lineup, but the manager is clearly eager for that to occur. More clarity will come after Judge’s workouts this weekend at Yankee Stadium.
“Sometimes at night I’ll write his name in the lineup, just when I’m screwing around for fun,” Boone said jokingly.
Tyler Austin was the DH for the Twins, after a four-game absence because of back tightness. Traded by the Yankees to the Twins on July 30 for right-hander Lance Lynn, Austin made his first appearance against his original team. He singled and walked in four plate appearances.
Yankees: With Boone preferring Austin Romine as the backstop for Gray, Sanchez moved from behind the plate to take a turn as the DH.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano took some swings and some grounders in a brief pregame workout, a small step forward in his attempt to play again this season. He’s been sidelined for a week by an injury to his left leg.