NEW YORK – Twins righthander Jake Odorizzi pitched six strong innings on Saturday, strong enough to quiet a Yankee Stadium that normally is full of energy. But things changed quickly in the seventh.
Brett Gardner doubled, then Cameron Maybin singled off Trevor Hildenberger. Gardner scored on a wild pitch and Maybin scored on a single. The fans woke up, and they were ornery. A five-run Twins lead shrank to three, and the Yankees were ready for more.
But the Twins didn’t crumble in the Bronx. Blake Parker yielded a long home run to Gary Sanchez, but the Twins added a couple late runs to put away the Yankees 7-3, for their first victory in the Bronx since June 26, 2016.
Including the 2017 AL wild-card game, the Yankees had won nine in a row at home and 14 of 15 in the series at their ballpark.
“Historically, we haven’t played too well here, before my time and even last year,” Odorizzi said. “So, it’s good to finally get that win that we’ve been searching for I think three years, whatever it’s been, three or four years.”
Odorizzi (4-2) lowered his ERA to 2.78 with six shutout innings that ran his current scoreless streak to 13 innings. He gave up only two hits while walking four and striking out eight.
“Odo went out there and threw the ball great again,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s more of what we’ve saw from him. He got us fairly deep into the game.”
Odorizzi made it look easier than it was, especially in the fourth inning.
In the top of the inning, Jonathan Schoop batted with two on and two out and sent a towering fly ball to right field. But the Yankees’ Cameron Maybin jumped at the wall and robbed him of a three-run homer that would have given the Twins a 5-0 lead.
“I wanted to go out there,” Schoop said of his reaction to the catch, “but I rob people too. You gotta realize that.”
Odorizzi realized that big defensive plays can spark a club. He walked two in the bottom of the inning and fell behind 2-0 to Maybin before regrouping to strike him and end the inning. Odorizzi then retired six of the final seven Yankees he faced.
“A defensive play like that can kind of get things going for them, and I’ve seen it happen many, many times here,” Odorizzi said. “So, to go out there and get through the next inning with a zero I think was probably the most important part of the game, because the stadium kind of came alive after that, they’d been pretty quiet up until that point.”
It also helped that the Twins consistently threatened at the plate, scoring single runs in each of the last five innings. Byron Buxton scored during a double play in the fifth to make it 3-0. C.J. Cron blasted a solo home run to left in the sixth and Mitch Garver, who hit a two-run homer in the third, scored on a groundout in the seventh to push the lead to 5-0.
Even after the Yankees scored twice in the seventh, Schoop hit an RBI single in the eighth and Nelson Cruz homered in the ninth.
By the time Taylor Rogers went out for the bottom of the ninth, the stadium was quiet again. And stayed that way.
“Momentum is a real thing,” Baldelli said. “Anytime you can stop the other team from building anything or getting anything going, I think it greatly improves your chances.”