You can’t win a World Series in June. This season’s winner, like all others, will be determined by a small-sample October tournament. Games played today can only mean so much when it comes to who goes home with the trophy.
But true championship courage can be demonstrated every day. That’s what the Yankees did in Minnesota, taking their ace on a night it imploded and finding a way to win a game that looked lost. No, the Yankees haven’t significantly improved their chances of winning the World Series. They just looked like the best team in baseball as they rushed back to beat the Twins 10-7.
However, for all the fireworks that would follow, this game started off with a cute artificial run. Aaron Judge managed a one-out walk in the first, then hit-and-run and took third place with a single by Anthony Rizzo. The judge was plated when Josh Donaldson lofted a sack to the right for a 1-0 lead.
The early lead would be short-lived as Gerrit Cole’s night quickly turned to hell. Luis Arraez led the home half with a shocking solo shot, only his second thing of the year. Byron Buxton made it back to back and took a cement mixer from Cole far to the left. Not to be outdone, Carlos Correa followed with a screaming line drive homer. Three consecutive home runs abandoned by the Yankees’ horse to start the game.
Cole had no excuses this inning as the three hitters pulled out three different pitches, a changeup, a slider, and a cutter in that order, leaving everyone dead red mid-mid. There is certainly some misfortune involved here; You can’t imagine every bad pitch being penalized with a home run. But Cole’s command was clear from the word “go” and the twins hurt him immediately.
The Yankees had a counterattack after that Minnesota uproar, with Joey Gallo connecting the game with a towering two-run homer on three:
However, the twins continued to body shot Cole. A single and a walk gave Buxton a two-on in the second, Cole missed another pitch mid-mid, and the result was a crushing three-run bomb.
History repeats itself again in the third. Cole threw Trevor Larnach a fourseamer straight down Broadway, one that the left-hander dumped on the seats 441 feet away. Gio Urshela followed up with a double to end Cole’s miserable evening after 2.1 innings, eight hits and seven runs home.
You can tell the story of Cole’s outing with a chart:
That’s all five home runs Cole allowed, with each throw representing an execution error. Everyone was a mistake and a bad one. But again, it’s odd for a pitcher with stuff as good as Cole to be penalized with a homer every time he makes a mistake. For example, since 2020, fastballs in excess of 97 mph have been brought into play 1,727 times in the zone’s center middle section. These batted balls resulted in a .337 wOBA; no 1,000 wOBA. Here we have an example of a great player who makes a lot of ugly mistakes and pays the maximum possible amount for each of them.
Lucas Luetge came on for Cole and did a good job to settle things. He recorded seven outs, allowed one hit and no runs, stabilized the game and worked into the fifth. Luetge gave the Yankees a chance to reconnect with Minnesota.
They did just that thanks to a pair of back-to-back homers of their own. At the top of the fifth, Gallo laid down his second game and DJ LeMahieu followed with a solo shot of his own to level the score at 7-5.
And in the next inning, perhaps the most surprising thing of a night full of shockers happened:
Aaron Hicks just slammed his third extra base hit of the year, and it was a doozy, a majestic fly down the right field line, tying the game at seven. Playing in Minnesota only seems to bring out the highlights of Hicks.
Unhappy with a tie, the Yankees pushed back in front in the seventh. Judge opened with a double from the top of the wall and Rizzo drove him in with a single for an 8-7 advantage. Three batters later, Hicks stayed hot with an RBI single to bring in Josh Donaldson and fill in the lead.
All the while, the Yankee baton continued to stand upside down, raising his ace high. Miguel Castro came after Luetge and made his contribution by leading the Yankees through six with a 1-1 scoreless. Wandy Peralta kept the Twins off balance in the seventh and Michael King put on a strong performance in the eighth. King took the mound with a 10-7 advantage when 2021 MVP, Wild Pitch with a runner in third, emerged at the top of the frame and chased Rizzo home.
Clay Holmes, currently the game’s main assist, made short work of the top of Minnesota’s lineup with his ninth save of the year, and one of the best wins of 2022 was on the books. Early on, the Yankees looked like they were headed for a series loss, one that would have sent them home on a minor losing streak and some concern over a rotation that finally looked fatal this week. Instead they will ride high, the good times still rolling despite some bumpy performances from their top starters.
They’ll try to keep the momentum going against the Cubs tomorrow night with Luis Severino on the bump. It starts at 7:05 p.m. Until then.