They molested Jameson Taillon, they beat Nestor Cortes, and on Thursday the twins absolutely annihilated Gerrit Cole by hitting five homers and making just seven outs against the right-hander.
So why did the Twins hobble away with just one win after such an exceptional performance against baseball’s best rotation this season?
Because the Yankees can also score.
New York hit four homers of their own and punished Twins starter Dylan Bundy and a pliable Twins bullpen by hitting in six separate innings and recovering from a four-run deficit to frustrate the Twins again at 10-7 in Target Field . The Yankees taped the series for the 10th time as part of their 12 annual regular-season meetups at the Twins downtown ballpark.
Still, the twins have been consistently positive about their performance this week.
“We went straight for them, chased one of the best starters in baseball and hit him pretty well. We couldn’t have been happier with the bats,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “After a game like that, we better move forward. We know what we have to do.”
In a game of strange and unusual events — an appeal by New York that Gio Urshela missed third base was successful, a pop-up remained untouched between Jorge Polanco and Carlos Correa, and Joe Smith committed his first block in six years — Perhaps the most amazing story was the bizarre ineffectiveness of the Yankees’ ace starter and the Twins’ most dynamic helper.
Cole, the AL’s highest-paid pitcher at $36 million, had never conceded more than three home runs in a professional-level game. But that changed suddenly.
Luis Arraez led from the bottom of the first, turning on a substitution and whistling it into the stands in right field. Byron Buxton pushed Cole’s next throw into third deck in left field, 422 feet away. And Carlos Correa was hitting back-to-back-to-back homers — only the seventh time in MLB history a team has started this way, and the first time for the Twins — with a screeching liner a dozen Rows deep inside left grandstand.
“I didn’t feel like he had that [fastball] ride he usually has,” Correa said of Cole, his former Astros teammate. “I’ve played behind him so much, and I’ve seen how that fastball looks like he’s going up from the shortstop. It wasn’t like that today.”
Buxton added a three-run shot in the second inning, which gave him 15 home runs in the season. And Trevor Larnach unloaded Cole’s 98 mph fastball in the third inning, at 441 feet the deepest blast of the night.
When Gio Urshela followed with a double against his former Yankee teammate, Cole’s night was over after a season-high seven runs and just 2 ⅓ innings, and the Twins had inflicted a 12.66 ERA on the Yankees’ three starters this week.
“Meeting the best pitching team in baseball bodes well for the future. But it didn’t just happen,” Baldelli said. “We saw it as a challenge.”
But New York hit back, with Joey Gallow twice starting home runs from Bundy without a doubt. DJ LeMahieu did the same against reliever Jharel Cotton, and Aaron Hicks faced Smith in the sixth, leveling the game 7-7 and setting the Target Field record for home runs in a single game by either team: nine, also in one Astros’ win over the Twins (including a Correa home run) on May 31, 2017.
Jhoan Duran came in to set up seventh for the Twins, an attempt to salvage a win by smothering a relentless Yankee attack. But the fiery helper, who hadn’t allowed a run in more than a month, was made human by a hot lineup. Aaron Judge led with a double off the bullpen fence and three of the next four hitters made singles. Duran’s worst outing of the season was over after just five batters.
“He’ll look at this outing and learn something,” Baldelli said.
The Twins never threatened New York’s bullpen and only managed one hit in the 6 ⅔ innings after Cole left.