The night was hot. The baseball was not.
The Twins, losers of four of their previous six games, resumed their one-hit-short policy of strangling their own rallies, while the Yankees, losers of eight of their previous 10, simply waited for the Twins to bequeath them runs they didn't really deserve. The result was a less-than-inspiring matchup between two of the biggest disappointments in the American League — but the Twins made it clear who's the biggest.
Minnesota committed four errors, three of them contributing to Yankees runs, and New York pulled off an 8-4 victory at steamy Target Field without a run-scoring hit until the ninth inning.
Bronx Bombers? They were the Bronx Beneficiaries on this night.
"That's a tough thing. It's not like they were hitting the ball around the ballpark," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after his team fell to 9-24 against New York since 2015. "But sometimes it doesn't really come down to that."
No, not against this Twins team which, one season after winning the AL Central with a 36-24 record, now stands 24-36 and an astonishing 13 games out of first place with more than 100 games still to play. New York, which somehow has fewer hits with runners in scoring position this year than any AL team, scored its first run on the first bases-loaded walk of Michael Pineda's career, its second came on Jorge Alcala's first wild pitch of the season, and its third run came on a sacrifice fly that would have ended the inning if Willians Astudillo hadn't dropped a high chopper one batter earlier.
"We had some errors tonight. We always want to avoid that," Baldelli said. "Playing fundamental baseball is something we're going to have to do in order to stay in ballgames [and] win ballgames. Teams that play good baseball, they win games."
As opposed to the Twins. Even after that mistake-fest, the game was tied 3-3 entering the eighth inning. But a couple more errors — Jorge Polanco's bad throw while trying to cut off a run at the plate, and Andrelton Simmons coming off second base too soon while trying to turn a double play — took care of that, allowing the Yankees to score two more runs.
"I'm not concerned about those particular plays we saw tonight, mainly because of why [they occurred]. We were trying to stay in the ballgame," Baldelli said. "If we play conservatively on those plays all the time, that's a challenge in its own right. If Polo goes to first base, we get the out [but] the run scores. If Simmons just steps on second and doesn't [try to turn the double play] — in order to give ourselves a chance, we had to play aggressive baseball, and tonight those plays just didn't work out for us."
Neither did Griffin Jax's major league debut in the ninth, punctuated by a pair of long home runs by Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar.
That was plenty to beat the Twins, who are now 11-24 against the Yankees in Target Field history.
The Twins actually took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, with Ryan Jeffers providing the big hit, a looping line drive that landed just beyond the infield, and mere inches inside the left-field foul line, scoring Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sano. The latter's role was the most unlikely part of that rally, given that Sano had singled just ahead of Jeffers' hit — only the third time in his 45 games this season that Sano has collected a base hit in his first at-bat of a game. He's now 3-for-39 (077) with five walks and a hit batter in his first time up.
The Twins left runners in scoring position in the second and sixth innings, too, but the latter at least came after Rob Refsnyder, activated in the afternoon from the concussion list, just missed a home run, smacking starter Jordan Montgomery's final pitch of the night off the top of the bullpen wall, driving Trevor Larnach home with the tying run.
But that was it for the offense until it was too late. Though it always seems to be too late against the Yankees.