NEW YORK — Aaron Judge started the first-game comeback with his major league-leading 55th home run, Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a go-ahead grand slam in the nightcap and the New York Yankees swept5-4 and 7-1 on Wednesday.
Kiner-Falefa sparked a two-run 12th in the opener with a tying leadoff RBI single. He erased a 1-0 deficit in the fourth inning of the second game when he sent a belt-high slider from Joe Ryan (10-8) into the left-field seats. IKF flipped his bat after the no-doubt drive, his first slam among 19 career home runs.
Oswaldo Cabrera stopped an 0-for-25 slide with a game-ending single in the opener. The Yankees threw a team from the 90s at the Twins – as in uniform numbers usually limited to spring training – and Kiner-Falefa played third base for the first time in two years.
Gerrit Cole (11-7) struck out a season-high 14 in the night game, allowing five hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. Carlos Correa hit a third-inning homer, and with the crowd chanting “Cheater!” in the seventh, Correa struck out to strand two runners against Lucas Luetge, who got his second save. Aaron Hicks added a three-run double in the eighth after Austin Davis walked the Nos. 7-9 hitters.
New York (83-54) opened a five-game AL East lead over second-place Tampa Bay and clinched its 30th straight winning season despite an injury-depleted lineup. The Yankees are 114-39 against the Twins since 2002, including the playoffs.
Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu, Josh Donaldson, Andrew Benintendi and Matt Carpenter were among those hurt or unavailable.
Judge (No. 99) was joined by Nos. 95 (Cabrera), 91 (shortstop Oswald Peraza), 97 (reliever Ron Marinaccio) and 90 (center fielder Estevan Florial) to give the Yankees five players with jerseys in the 90s. Greg Weissert (3-0), who won the opener, had a relatively low No. 85.
“You can see the energy they bring,” Game 1 starter Domingo Germán said through a translator. “They bring so much energy to the clubhouse.”
Cabrera also threw out Gilberto Celestino at the plate in the 10th inning, his fifth outfield assist since his Aug. 17 debut, and made a sliding catch on Gio Urshela.
“We love his poise and his makeup,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s not afraid.”
Peraza got his first four big league hits in the doubleheader, including a pair of doubles.
Judge homered for the fourth straight game, driving a changeup to left in the fourth inning, the only blemish of Louie Varland’s otherwise outstanding major league debut.
Judge set the Yankees record for right-handed hitters by surpassing the 54 homers hit by Alex Rodriguez in 2007. The Yankees’ season record of 61 was set by Roger Maris in 1961, also the AL mark and one more than Babe Ruth’s high of 60 in 1927.
Varland, a 24-year-old right-hander, gave up three hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts. He averaged 93.9 mph with 44 fastballs, mixing in 19 changeups and 17 sliders.
“I’m glad it’s over because there’s a lot of anxiety,” the St. Paul native said. “I couldn’t really feel my legs the first batter. After that first out though, things kind of went back to normal.”
Judge struck out on a changeup in the first.
“The perfect one to do my first strikeout,” Varland said.
He said the callup “completely blindsided me.” Twenty-three family members and friends were on hand, visible on the third base side in a sparse crowd for the makeup of Tuesday’s rainout.
“It’s like watching a movie. We’re just floating around. He deserves this so much,” said his mom, Kim. “It’s overwhelming joy. He’s been a fan forever and to get the hometown team is amazing, amazing.”
Minnesota, which entered 1 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland, had built a 3-0 lead.
Jose Miranda, a cousin of “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, hit a two-run homer inside the left-field foul pole in the first and Celestino had an RBI single in the third.
Gleyber Torres tied it at 3 with a two-run homer in the sixth off Griffin Jax.
After Celestino’s RBI single off Marinaccio gave Minnesota a 4-3 lead in the 12th, Weissert retired Correa on a popout and Miranda on a flyout.
Kiner-Falefa singled off Trevor Megill (3-3), stole second with one out and held at third when Jose Trevino dumped a single into right field and reached second in a rundown. Cabrera grounded a curve for an opposite-field, two-out single to left that ended a 4-hour, 3-minute struggle.
New York’s streak of winning seasons is second only to the big league record of 39 set by the Yankees from 1926-64.
Minnesota made a season-high four errors in the opener. LF Jake Cave threw out Marwin Gonzalez at the plate in the nightcap.
Judge was walked four times in the twinbill, three intentionally.
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Hicks grounded out on Ryan’s 13th pitch, the longest plate appearance for a Yankees player leading off the first since Derek Jeter’s flyout on the 15th pitch from the Los Angeles Angels’ Jered Weaver on June 3, 2011.
Twins: Designated RHP Jake Jewell for assignment to open a roster spot for Varland.
Yankees: LHP Zack Britton (Tommy John surgery) pitched a hitless inning with a walk and a strikeout in his first rehab outing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. …. Rizzo went on the injured list, retroactive to Saturday, due to headaches following an epidural injection for lower back pain. Donaldson was placed on the paternity list, RHP Luke Bard was designated for assignment, INF Ronald Guzmán’s contract was selected from Scranton, RHP Deivi García was recalled from the RailRiders and INF/OF Miguel Andújar was brought up from Triple-A as the 29th man for the doubleheader.
Former Yankee RHP Sonny Gray (7-4, 3.10), pushed back a day because of a sore hamstring, is to start Thursday’s series finale for Minnesota. All-Star LHP Nestor Cortes (9-4, 2.68 ERA) could be activated following a groin strain to start for New York.
Source: CBS Minnesota