Yankees find themselves stymied by familiar faces in the latest Twins showdown

Joey Gallo hit a home run against the Yankees at Target Field, Minnesota, on April 23, 2023.
Inna Zeyger
Tuesday April 25, 2023

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The Yankees were dealt a double blow by none other than  Sonny Gray and Joey Gallo, the very players they had once discarded citing less-than-expected performance, in their on-road game in Minnesota on Monday. Gray and Gallo, who were often criticized during their time with the Yankees before being traded away, teamed up to pummel their former team. Their efforts paid off as they helped the Twins secure a 6-1 victory over the Yankees.

On a chilly evening at Target Field, Gray dominated a struggling Yankees lineup, pitching seven scoreless innings and striking out eight while giving up only three hits. Meanwhile, Gallo smashed a 432-foot solo homer, his sixth in just 13 games this season, to extend the Twins’ lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning.

For the Yankees (13-10), it was another disappointing night as they lost for the third time in four games, exposing their dire need for reinforcements in the starting lineup. Their offense also failed to impress yet again, averaging just 3.7 runs in the last 13 games. Overall, it was a bleak outcome for the Yankees.

Gray’s big show-up against the Yankees

After being traded away by the Yankees over four years ago due to his inability to perform in New York, Gray appeared nearly untouchable in his fifth start of the season, lowering his ERA to an impressive 0.62. He kept the Yankees’ bats silent over seven innings, allowing only three hits and two walks while striking out eight, as the Twins moved to 13-10.

Although Gleyber Torres managed a single in the second inning, it was quickly erased on a double play. Aaron Judge doubled off the right-field wall in the fourth inning but was left stranded at third base, and DJ LeMahieu‘s leadoff single in the fifth was also quickly negated by another double play.

Gray’s record now stands at 3-0 this season, leading the Twins with his impressive 0.63 ERA. The Yankees finally had a chance to get back into the game in the eighth inning when they managed to put multiple runners on base against reliever Griffin Jax. However, they failed to capitalize as Anthony Rizzo left the bases loaded, striking out on three pitches to end the threat.

In the ninth inning, the Yankees loaded the bases once again and finally managed to score a run thanks to Oswaldo Cabrera, who hit a ground ball to the fielder. However, it was too little too late, and the Yankees fell to a 6-1 loss to the Twins. Aaron Hicks also attempted to bunt for a hit in the third inning, but it failed to pan out, and the Yankees were unable to overcome Gray’s dominant performance. Judge acknowledged after the game that his team needs to start hitting the gas pedal sooner.

“We’ve got to try to jump out early on teams, score early, and put the pressure on them,” Judge said. “Right now, we’re kind of taking a while getting into the game, feeling it, and not doing the job. We’ve got to jump on them early, and that starts tomorrow.”

Gallo’s revenge against the Yankees

When the Yankees traded for Joey Gallo in 2021, they hoped his power-hitting skills would allow him to take advantage of Yankee Stadium‘s short right-field porch. However, Gallo struggled with a .159 batting average in 140 games and was eventually traded to the Dodgers for Clayton Beeter.

Now with the Twins, Gallo showed off his improved swing with a 432-foot home run off Greg Weissert in the fourth inning. Despite a recent stint on the injured list, Gallo went 1-for-3 with a walk, contributing to the Twins’ victory.

“Obviously, some well-documented struggles with us, but we never lost sight of what a good player he is and can be,” manager Aaron Boone said before the game. “I don’t think it’s necessarily surprising to us that he’s having some success here.”

Gallo signed a one-year, $11 million contract with the Twins in the offseason, aiming to have a better season after struggling in his time with the Yankees. His batting average has improved to .243 with an impressive 1.121 OPS as a Twin. When the Twins came to The Bronx last week, the first baseman/outfielder was on the injured list.

“I think it was very tough on him,” Boone said. “It absolutely wore on him. It was the real deal. But I respected how he handled it. He never ran from it, he never wanted out of the lineup. As best he could, he faced it and owned it. I know what a tough time it probably was in his life and the challenges he’s faced, but he had my respect in the way that he always continued to fight and compete.”

Brito was a shadow of himself

Once again, Jhony Brito had a tough time on the mound against the Twins, just eleven days after his disastrous first-inning exit from their previous matchup.

This time, Brito managed to retire six out of the first seven batters he faced, a slight improvement from his previous outing. However, he struggled to find his rhythm and ended up throwing 80 pitches to only last 2 2/3 innings. As a result, the bullpen had to cover the remaining 5 1/3 innings in the midst of a grueling stretch of 16 games in 16 days.

Although Brito wasn’t hit as hard this time, he still gave up three runs before being pulled from the game. The final straw came in the second inning after he allowed a two-run single to Jorge Polanco, a groundout by Byron Buxton that scored another run, and a walk to Trevor Larnach.

Despite lasting slightly longer than his previous start against the Twins on April 13, when he allowed nine runs in the first inning alone, Brito struggled once again to dispatch batters effectively.

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