Didi Gregorius drove in three more runs with two of New York’s nine extra-base hits, and the Yankees clobbered Minnesota’s pitching once again in a 10-7 victory over the Twins on Wednesday night.
Aaron Hicks, Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnación each hit solo home runs for the Yankees, who outscored the Twins 30-27 to win this three-game series and turned Target Field into a private batting cage with a total of 48 hits, half of them for extra bases.
After ravaging Twins relievers during a split of the first two games, the Yankees turned on All-Star starter Jake Odorizzi (11-5) this time. He finished four innings, with 10 hits, nine runs and two walks allowed.
Gregorius, who went 8 for 10 with 10 RBIs in his two starts, hit an RBI double to ignite a four-run second. Mike Tauchman added a two-run triple before the inning was over. Gregorius got three hits, a day after going 5 for 5 with seven RBIs.
Eddie Rosario, Marwin Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz each homered for the Twins, who also got a big boost from rookie Devin Smeltzer’s five innings and one run allowed that helped them stay within striking distance.
But after forcing the exit by Yankees starter J.A. Happ with only one out in their three-run fourth, the Twins tailed off against the bullpen and saw their lead in the AL Central over surging Cleveland drop to two games, the smallest since May 5.
Nestor Cortes Jr. (4-0) picked up the victory after being recalled from Triple-A, Tommy Kahnle stranded two runners when he entered to finish the seventh inning, and Aroldis Chapman pitched a hitless ninth for his 26th save.
The Yankees, meanwhile, took a 10-game lead in the AL East race to rival Boston to finish their road trip.
After the Twins turned a triple play and hit five home runs to hang on for an 8-6 victory on Monday, the Yankees responded with a 14-12 win on Tuesday that was even more of a rollercoaster ride featuring erasure of a six-run deficit after five and go-ahead rallies in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings before Hicks ended the five-hour game with a diving catch in center field with the bases loaded.
Producing an encore in the series finale that matched the entertainment value of the first two games was going to be awfully difficult, but the sellout crowd of 40,127 — the largest since the 2016 home opener — was still treated to plenty of action.
Encarnación’s homer off Smeltzer in the ninth came after he painfully fouled a ball off the top of his left foot. He was grimacing as he gingerly jogged around the bases for his 17th home run at Target Field. It marked his eighth straight year with at least 30 home runs and he’s tied with Salvador Pérez for the most by a visiting player in the 10-year history of the ballpark.
Yankees: With Gary Sánchez going on the injured list with a strained left groin , the Yankees were also without LF Brett Gardner for the fourth straight game because of a sore left knee, still favoring precaution. Tauchman, conveniently, is 8 for 15 with seven runs and five RBIs over those four games in his place.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton was given another day on the injured list, his 10th straight game missed following concussion-like symptoms and then wisdom teeth being pulled, but manager Rocco Baldelli hinted that he could be activated on Thursday. Buxton probably could’ve caught both triples that Jake Cave didn’t in CF.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (7-5, 4.00 ERA) pitches the opener of the four-game series in Boston on Thursday night. RHP Rick Porcello (8-7, 5.61 ERA) takes the mound for the Red Sox, who are in third place, one game behind Tampa Bay.
Twins: RHP Jose Berriós (8-5, 2.96 ERA) starts a four-game series in Chicago on Thursday night, with RHP Lucas Giolito (11-4, 3.12 ERA) taking the mound for the White Sox in a matchup of AL All-Stars.
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