Late hits by Escobar, Rosario guide Twins past Yankees
MINNEAPOLIS -- Getting into Minnesota at 4 a.m. local time after a grueling weekend trip to Boston, the New York Yankees were plenty tired and were thin in the bullpen.
The long weekend made Monday night’s opener against the Twins challenging too.
Eduardo Escobar’s pinch-hit single snapped a tie in the eighth inning and Eddie Rosario followed with an RBI single as the Twins (47-45) held on for a 4-2 win against New York (47-44).
“We were looking at options on how to get through the inning and give us the best chance to score,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said of Escobar. “He did a nice job. It was an off-speed pitch and he can go down and get that low pitch, especially right-handed, and he poked it out there.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn’t have many bullpen options, deciding to keep rookie left-hander Caleb Smith in the game as the eighth inning unraveled. Escobar took advantage.
Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano each singled to lead off the eighth against Smith (0-1), who was making his major league debut. Max Kepler couldn’t get down a sacrifice bunt and ended up striking out before Escobar batted for Kennys Vargas.
Escobar stroked the second pitch he saw into left field to plate Mauer. Rosario’s single drove in Sano.
“Not too many options,” Girardi said. “If we took the lead, I probably would have went to Adam (Warren) for Sano. I had Adam, I had Dellin (Betances). (Tyler) Clippard, it would have been the third day in a row, had him for a little bit and (Chasen) Shreve was probably not. So, I didn’t really have a lot of options. Because we didn’t take the lead, I couldn’t really make the change.”
Rosario had two hits and drove in two runs for the Twins, who have struggled mightily against New York for years and beat the Yankees for just the seventh time in 26 meetings at Target Field.
All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler finished off his 26th save in 29 chances in a heavy downpour in the ninth.
“I got 2-1 and I was like, ‘Good God, let’s hurry up,'” Kintzler said. “Throw it down the middle and see what happens. It worked in my favor.”
Taylor Rogers (5-1) allowed one hit and struck out two batters in 1 1/3 innings of relief. Minnesota’s Adalberto Mejia gave up one run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Smith surrendered two runs on four hits and a walk in three innings. He struck out five batters in relief of starter Bryan Mitchell.
Rookie Garrett Cooper had three hits for New York.
“I think his slider was pretty good tonight,” Girardi said of Mejia. “We hit some balls hard with runners in scoring position, didn’t have anything to show for it.”
Vargas walked in the second inning and scored the first run on a double to right field by Rosario.
Brian Dozier and Zack Granite led off the third with singles and Mauer walked, loading the bases for Sano. He lofted a soft liner to right field that Aaron Judge circled under and then unloaded a throw home to nab Dozier trying to score from third.
“I was just turning around when the throw was coming in,” Mitchell said. “That was an unbelievable play. That was really big for us.”
Kepler followed with a grounder to second and Mitchell dropped Starlin Castro’s throw, allowing Granite to score.
“I was there, I was on the bag,” Mitchell said. “It just went off the end of my glove. I don’t know if I looked away at the last second. That’s just a ball I need to catch.”
Mejia struck out four of the first six batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit until Cooper’s infield single with one out in the third.
New York had runners on first and third in the fourth, but Castro’s liner was caught by a diving Kepler in right field.
Austin Romine had an RBI double over Kepler’s head in the fifth for the Yankees’ first run, scoring Cooper after he doubled.
NOTES: New York manager Joe Girardi announced 1B Greg Bird is scheduled to have ankle surgery on Tuesday. Girardi said Bird will need six weeks to recover from surgery, putting his return for this season in doubt. Bird has played in 19 games this season, hitting .100. ... Minnesota LHP Hector Santiago (upper thoracic back pain) played catch Monday and is scheduled to throw bullpen sessions on Tuesday and Friday. ... Yankees RHP Michael Pineda is scheduled for Tommy John surgery in Cincinnati on Tuesday. The surgery will be performed by Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremcheck. ... Twins SS Jorge Polanco was out of the lineup again with Ehire Adrianza starting. Manager Paul Molitor said he wanted to give Polanco a two-day break because he felt he was “forcing the action.” Polanco is in a 5-for-51 (.098 average) slump.