NEW YORK — A trio of extras from another awful night for the Twins in Yankee Stadium:
There are peaks and valleys to any baseball season, Paul Molitor knows. He just didn’t expect to be lacking so much elevation so soon.
“We’ve been tested here early, but we just have to find a way to respond,” the Twins manager said after Minnesota’s losing streak stretched to five games with an 8-3 loss to the Yankees that never felt close. “We have to find ways, when guys are around the cages and doing their work, to find more positivity. You just know when you’re going through these things — you can feel it, and you have to try to find a way to turn it around.”
Getting more offense would be nice. The Twins have scored more than one run in an inning only twice in 81 innings of this road trip, and not at all in New York. They’ve been out-homered, 8-0, in a ballpark known for having short, reachable fences. They have only had two hits in an inning 12 times on this trip, and they’ve never had more than three. Tonight’s eighth-inning doubles by Max Kepler and Eduardo Escobar? First time in a week they’ve had two extra-base hits in the same frame.
“We’ve got to start getting more guys on base. Everybody wants to say we’ve had a run of some tough pitching, all that kind of crap. But it’s the big leagues — every single day, there’s good pitching,” said Brian Dozier, held hitless Tuesday for the first time all season. “We’ve got to start getting on base, taking more good at-bats as a unit. Once we do that, we can start to be that aggressive team that we are, running bases, taking chances. You can’t play this game in a defensive mindset. You’ve just got to get back to attacking.”
Yankee fans not only got to watch a win, but they got to engage in another favorite pastime on Tuesday: booing. When wild-to-a-fault reliever Dellin Betances relieved Sabathia in the seventh, things went badly in a hurry. He walked Escobar to open the inning, then threw a pickoff throw past first baseman Neil Walker. Betances, whose ERA now reads 6.00, struck out Eddie Rosario, but Mitch Garver followed with a single to right field, with Eduardo Escobar scoring when rookie second baseman Gleybar Torres couldn’t catch Gary Sanchez’s attempt to nab Garver as he retreated to first.
When Betances then walked Logan Morrison, his night was done, and he left to a chorus of unhappiness from the crowd of 39,025.
But David Robertson quickly ended the unpleasantness, striking out Ehire Adrianza and retiring pinch-hitter Joe Mauer on a tapper to the mound.
Lance Lynn has never started a game in Yankee Stadium, but Jose Berrios likes his chances on Wednesday night.
“We trust Lance,” Berrios said. “He’s a veteran, and even though he’s never thrown here, he’s thrown big games, so we trust that he’s just going to go out there and execute his game plan.”
What might that gameplan be? “He’s going to keep the ball low tomorrow, hopefully,” Berrios said, “and it’s going to avoid those home runs.”
That would be a good start, though the Yankees have hit 14 home runs in their last four games against the Twins, counting the wild-card game. And maybe Lynn is the perfect man for the job: In his one career start against the Yankees, at Busch Stadium in 2014, he pitched a five-hit shutout — the only complete-game shutout of his career.