NEW YORK (AP) – For the New York Yankees so far this season, every ounce of pleasure comes with at least a little dose of pain.
Gary Sanchez homered twice and the Yankees overcame their latest injury Friday night, beating the Minnesota Twins 6-3 after starter James Paxton exited early with soreness in his left knee.
“It’s just something that’s nagging at me enough that I couldn’t execute pitches,” Paxton said. “I’m not real worried it’s going to be something long-term. I’m hoping it’s something that’s just a quick fix.”
Already with 13 players on the injured list, the Yankees said Paxton will have an MRI on Saturday.
“Obviously, can’t afford to lose him for too long,” reliever Adam Ottavino said. “At this point, we’re kind of used to it.”
Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit each hit an RBI single for New York (18-13), which won for the 10th time in 13 games and improved to 1-5 against teams that currently have a winning record.
Minnesota (19-11) entered with baseball’s best mark for the first time since September 2010 but again fell flat in the Bronx with a sloppy performance. Nelson Cruz clocked a two-run homer in the eighth inning, but by then the Twins were well on their way to their eighth straight regular season loss at Yankee Stadium, and 13th in 14 games since August 2015.
They are 14-51 in the Bronx since 2002 – including the playoffs.
“I don’t necessarily think it’s anything that’s a mental block for us right now. Over the past four years they’ve had some pretty good teams, obviously,” Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson said. “It’s a home-field advantage. I don’t know what they’re doing here – but it doesn’t sound fair.”
The oft-injured Paxton, acquired from Seattle in an offseason trade to be a front-end starter, lasted only three innings on a nippy, 51-degree night. He threw just half his 64 pitches for strikes and left leading 2-1.
“It’s something that’s been a little bit nagging throughout the year, not a big deal. But tonight was a little more sore consistently, so just decided we didn’t want to risk anything,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Hopeful that it’s just some soreness that he’s been dealing with and tonight on a damp night it was just a little more cranky.”
Jonathan Holder (2-0) tossed two perfect innings before Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle each worked a 1-2-3 inning. Aroldis Chapman got three outs for his sixth save in seven chances, aided by Torres’ nice play at shortstop in finishing a four-hitter.
“Kind of an odd game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Sanchez had three hits. He launched a 429-foot shot off Gibson (2-1) leading off the fifth and lined a laser to left field against birthday boy Mike Morin for his 10th home run in the seventh.
“I haven’t played with too many guys who can hit a ball that hard,” Ottavino said.
Sanchez’s second solo drive of the night left his bat at 118.3 mph . He joined injured teammates Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, along with Mets rookie Pete Alonso, as the only players with a 118-plus mph home run since MLB’s Statcast began tracking in 2015.
So, which long ball felt better?
“Both,” Sanchez said through a translator.
It was Sanchez’s 12th multihomer performance in 284 major league games. That’s second only to Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who had 12 in his first 282 games.
RIGHT AT HOME
Making his first start in the outfield this season, Twins left fielder Marwin Gonzalez threw out Voit on the bases twice in the first two innings – once at home plate by a wide margin and then at second base.
Hurt by some shoddy defense, Gibson lost for the first time in nine starts dating to last season and fell to 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA in his past seven starts against the Yankees. “Just a weird night all around,” he said.
Twins: Miguel Sano (right heel laceration) is moving from Class A Fort Myers to Double-A Pensacola on his rehab assignment, but Baldelli said there’s still no “hard date” for the third baseman’s return. Sano will advance to Triple-A as well before joining the Twins. “The early returns are good,” Baldelli said. “We’re looking for just good, steady progress.”
Yankees: 3B Miguel AndÃºjar (shoulder) is set to come off the injured list Saturday, and the team hopes INF DJ LeMahieu (right knee inflammation) will return to the lineup as well. OF Clint Frazier (sprained left ankle) is scheduled to follow on Monday, when CF Aaron Hicks (lower back strain) could begin a rehab assignment with Class A Tampa. Frazier was headed to Pennsylvania for a two-game rehab stint with Double-A Trenton. … SS Troy Tulowitzki aggravated his left calf strain Wednesday night in his second rehab game with Tampa and will probably be shut down for a week, Boone said.
After the game, the Yankees optioned 1B Mike Ford to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Twins RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.34 ERA) starts Saturday afternoon against Yankees LHP J.A. Happ (1-2, 4.68), who is coming off seven shutout innings at San Francisco. Odorizzi, who threw seven scoreless innings last time out versus Houston, took a no-hitter into the eighth against the Yankees at home last September.
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