Was that the Gas House Gorillas in the Bronx last night? “Baseball Bugs,” the classic cartoon wasn’t playing on the scoreboard, and there was no “powerful paralyzing perfect pachydermous percussion pitch” to snuff out the first inning rally of the “pathetic palookas,” aka the Minnesota Twins.
Minnesota sent 13 men to the plate and scored 9 runs on 8 hits in a 29 minute top of the first inning as they went on to an 11-2 pasting of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium last night in the opener of a ten game home stand.
Since 2017, Minnesota was 2–14 at Yankee Stadium but this is not the same Twins team that would previously roll over in the Bronx. This Twins team came in with a chip on their shoulder.
Starter and loser Jhony Brito’s “carriage” (1st two outings, 2-0, 0.90 ERA) turned into a “pumpkin” real fast as he was charged with 7 earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. The 25-year old was going to have to experience adversity at one point or another. “Just looked like a lot of pitches up and out over the plate,” said Manager Aaron Boone, “obviously a rough night.” He may be sent down, not as a demotion but the Yankees will need to have another arm on hand after the bullpen had to throw 7 1/3 innings.
You can’t give up on Brito but how he performs from here on out will tell a lot about the youngster. “This is an unfortunate part of the game,” Manager Aaron Boone said. “You get punched in the mouth in this game, he’s [Brito] equipped to handle that.”
Isiah Kiner-Falefa made his Major League pitching debut in the ninth and tossed a scoreless inning. IKF gave up a hit and got three outfield outs.
For the first time in his young career, Brito appeared to be lost on the mound. His fastball was flat and his signature pitch, the change up, was up in the zone. The Twins’ hitters saw “meat” from Brito and hungrily jumped all over it. “It’s a tough night,” catcher Kyle Higashioka said. “Couldn’t really get the sinker in, we were having trouble getting the change up down. They [the Twins] were just jumping on every single mistake.”
Rookie Edouard Julien led off and lined a single off the right field wall to start the barrage. It was Julien’s first Major League hit. Carlos Correa reached on an infield single that was originally ruled an out at second but was overturned on replay. Byron Buxton walked and the Twins had the bases loaded and no one out.
Trevor Larnach plated the first run with a deep sacrifice fly to center but Jose Miranda jumped on the first pitch from Brito for a two run double and a 3-0 lead. Donovan Solano followed with an RBI double to make it 4-0 and then came three consecutive shots that left the yard.
First, it was Michael A. Taylor who hit a two-run home run over the centerfield wall for a 7-0 lead that marked the end of Brito’s night. “When you find yourself in a situation (bases loaded, none out) like that, you try to execute pitches and they keep making adjustments and they keep connecting,” Brito said through an interpreter.
Colten Brewer was brought on and he was not much better as he allowed two homers to the first two batters that he faced.
Julien hit his first Major League home run and became the first rookie since 2018 to have his first two Major League hits in the same inning. Correa followed with a solo shot and the Twins led 9-0. Buxton walked but Brewer got Larnach on a fly out to left as the crowd gave an official “Bronx cheer,” after a nightmare of a first inning for a Yankee fan.
Taylor hit his second home run of the game off of Brewer in the third as the Yankee reliever gave up three home runs on the night.
Twins’ pitcher Joe Ryan took the big lead and ran with it as he set down the first 11 hitters before Anthony Rizzo slammed the first of two home runs on the night to get the Yankees on the board in the fourth. Rizzo, who had three of the Yankees’ four hits, hit his second home run of the game and his third of the season off of Twins reliever Cole Sands in the ninth. Ryan did not walk a batter and struck out ten as he went seven innings to improve to 3-0. “He [Ryan] was getting ahead. He was pitching with his fastball, command was strike one, strike two right away, seemingly on everyone,” Rizzo said.
Aaron Judge saw his on base streak end at 45 consecutive games as he was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. Anthony Volpe was the only other Yankee who had a hit.
Yanks are 8-5 but are already five games behind the sizzling hot Tampa Bay Rays. It’s early, but you don’t want to be settling (air quotes) for a playoff spot in April.