MINNEAPOLIS – Gerrit Cole put his familiar spin on a tenacious win. The New York Yankees usually find their groove in Minnesota, after all.
Cole got back on track with six sharp innings amid the hubbub around grip aids for pitchers, and Giancarlo Stanton hit two of New York's four home runs to fuel a 9-6 victory Wednesday night over the Twins.
“The outside chatter is the outside chatter, and as players we’ve just got to do our best and stay focused on our job,” said Cole, who won for the first time in three starts. He allowed solo homers to Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sanó among five hits without a walk.
Polanco hit a two-run shot in a four-run ninth for the Twins, but Cole and the Yankees were in control from the start.
“That’s what an ace does,” teammate Aaron Judge said. “Nothing really can faze that guy.”
Judge and Miguel Andújar also took Twins starter Randy Dobnak (1-6) deep on a hot and humid night that had the ball jumping off the bat.
Cole (7-3) reserved two of his nine strikeouts for Josh Donaldson, who recently questioned whether the three-time All-Star right-hander and others have unfairly helped their cause with sticky substances on their fingers that cross the lines of even competition.
“He’s a tough customer. I’m not worried about his spin rate. I’m just watching him pitch. He’s a good pitcher,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Said Yankees manager Aaron Boone: “He’s an amazing pitcher and a tremendous competitor, and when all this dust settles and wherever the storyline goes, that ain’t changing.”
Dobnak, the former Uber-driving underdog who pitched in the playoffs at Yankee Stadium two years ago, surrendered career highs for runs (eight), homers (four) and walks (three) over 4 2/3 innings. He gave up 11 hits.
Stanton had three of them on his way to the 34th multi-homer game of his career and second of the season. He hit a three-run shot in the third inning and a two-run homer in the fifth, both following walks to Gleyber Torres.
This was also the 10th time in four years playing together, including the postseason, that Judge and Stanton both went deep in the same game. The Yankees have won each of them.
Entering the series, the Yankees had lost 10 of 13 games and four in a row, but leave it to a visit to Target Field to get them going. They're 28-11 here all-time, including 3-0 in the playoffs. As the fans in Minnesota are all too well aware, the Yankees are 105-37, including 16-2 in the playoffs, against the Twins over the last 20 seasons.
Brett Gardner, the only Yankees player who was around when the ballpark opened in 2010, had his first three-hit game of the year, including an RBI double.
Andújar socked his fifth homer in eight games as the Yankees matched their season high with 15 hits. The second-lowest scoring team in the American League, the Yankees have 40 hits over their last three games.
“I don’t think any of us or any of them ever stopped believing in what they’re capable of doing,” Boone said.
COLE VS. DONALDSON
Donaldson only made contact once against Cole, a flyout in the sixth inning. Cole hit 100 mph with a four-seam fastball during Donaldson's first at-bat.
Last week, after news leaked that four minor league pitchers had been suspended for using illegal substances on the mound, the spin rates on Cole's pitches were markedly down, according to Major League Baseball's Statcast data. Donaldson wondered aloud in an interview session with reporters whether that was a coincidence. Cole said it was, attributing the drop-off to mechanical flaws, after allowing five runs in five innings of a loss to Tampa Bay.
Players around the game are bracing for a crackdown on the sticky stuff that can make balls easier for pitchers to grip, faster to spin and harder to hit.
Donaldson was not made available to reporters after the game.
“Just the satisfaction of executing those pitches in that spot,” Cole said, dismissing a question about whether facing Donaldson gave him an extra edge on the mound.
Dobnak had a fingernail break off in his last start, so he actually went to a salon before the game to get a fake nail pressed on to minimize the blistering. That worked, but he was still bothered by discomfort and bruising.
“It’s almost like I can’t finish my pitches, and when I throw the sinker, I can kind of feel this finger not as strong as it usually is. Which, I guess, makes it sink less,” he said. “Last thing you probably think about as a pitcher. Yeah, your arm is fine, leg’s fine, everything’s fine, but fingernail’s messed up. This is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with something of this nature.”
Sanó had three hits for the Twins, including an RBI single in the ninth, and tied Joe Mauer for 11th place on the team’s career list with his 143rd home run. Gilberto Celestino produced his first major league hit, one of four against Brooks Kriskie in the ninth.
Yankees: Boone expressed no concern about a rough start to LHP Zack Britton's rehab assignment at Triple-A in his comeback from elbow surgery.
Twins: OF Kyle Garlick (sports hernia) became the 12th player on the team's injured list before the game. Celestino was summoned again from across the river in Triple-A St. Paul to play CF in the all-rookie outfield. Later, Nick Gordon became the seventh player to appear in CF this season for Minnesota. ... Byron Buxton, who's close to returning to CF after more than a month away due to a strained right hip, was scratched from the St. Paul lineup as a post-rain delay precaution.
RHP Michael King (0-3, 3.62 ERA) takes the mound Thursday as the Yankees try to complete their third sweep of the season. They'll face a former teammate in LHP J.A. Happ (3-2, 5.61).
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