Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 K (70 pitches, 42 strikes, 60.0%)
Home Runs: Ryan Jeffers (4), Byron Buxton (13)
Top 3 WPA: Chris Archer (.159), Gio Urshela (.147), Byron Buxton (.100)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Unlike last night, when the Yankees scored four early runs against starter Cole Sands, they were held scoreless through four tonight against Chris Archer and some excellent fielding.
Coming off his best start of the season, Archer was still hungry. He pitched three clean innings on 41 pitches, not allowing a hit nor using more than 17 pitches in any of them. He had some trouble with his command in the second inning, allowing two walks, but the defense also provided a crucial double play.
It felt like his good outing was doomed during the fourth inning. He gave up a leadoff walk to Aaron Judge, then Giancarlo Stanton reached on a throwing error by Nick Gordon and was followed by a Josh Donaldson one-out walk to load the bases. Facing Gleyber Torres, Archer was able to induce a stunning inning-ending double play.
By the time Archer completed four no-hit innings for the Twins, Yankees starter Nestor Cortés had pitched three perfect innings to start the game. Things would change for him in the following two innings.
Minnesota manufactured two runs in the home half of the fourth, taking its first lead in the series. Still struggling to find his mojo, Byron Buxton fought a hard battle with Cortés, hitting a leadoff single after nine pitches. Carlos Correa singled right after him, then Gio Urshela, a couple of at-bats later, scored Buxton from second with a deep single to deep right.
Cortés couldn’t stop the bleeding, allowing another single, this time to José Miranda, on the very next at-bat, good enough to score Correa from second. Max Kepler nearly batted in another run for the Twins when he singled to center, but Aaron Hick’s arm was too strong for Urshela to score from second.
Archer’s no-hit bid and shutout were both finished in the fifth when Hicks hit a leadoff single and later scored on a sac-fly. Fortunately, he was able to finish off the inning, and, for the first time this year, he has recorded back-to-back starts with at least five pitched innings. Have we reached the point in which Twins fans no longer need to doubt him?
After Archer delivered five frames of one-run ball, it was time the offense added some insurance, and that didn’t take long to happen. Ryan Jeffers snapped an 0-for-21 slump by obliterating a cutter from Cortés into a 440 ft bomb to left, making it 3-1 Twins.
Then, Buxton joined the party. Having hit only one home run since May 15, he took Cortés deep for the second time in the inning, making it 4-1 Twins and ending Cortés’ night. Since May 3, this is only the second multi-hit game for Buxton – but the second one in the last six days.
The Twins put themselves in a great position to win the game in the following two innings. Now facing the Yankee bullpen, Urshela and Miranda opened the sixth inning with back-to-back doubles. Then, both of them were brought home on a Kepler groundout and a Trevor Larnach double.
While Griffin Jax tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Archer, the offense continued to be productive. Buxton, Correa, and Jorge Polanco drew three consecutive walks to start the home seventh, allowing Miranda to bat in a couple more runs with his third hit of the night, making it 8-1 Twins.
During the Bally Sports North broadcast, reporter Audra Martin brought up a fun story about Miranda. According to her, the Twins star prospect was approached by Correa in mid-May when he was struggling, batting only .094 for his first 14 games in the majors. Since the two infielders had that conversation during the Kansas City series, Miranda is batting .390.
With a comfortable lead, Emilio Pagán and Caleb Thielbar had no trouble closing out the game. A fielding error by Miranda to start the ninth was erased by yet another double play turned by the Twins defense, their fourth of the night.
The rubber game of the series is tomorrow, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT. The Twins turn to Dylan Bundy (5.57 ERA) to try and secure another series win, while the Yankees will have ace Gerrit Cole (2.78 ERA) on the mound.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet