Aaron Judge got one home run closer to Roger Maris and the Yankees were lucky – very lucky – to win the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader.
The extra innings were a mind-numbing display of offensive ineptitude from the Yanks and Twins, who squandered multiple opportunities before Oswaldo Cabrera ended the four-hour misery with a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 12th.
It was a 5-4 victory snatched from the jaws of victory.
The worst execution was from Ronald Guzman, who made his MLB debut Wednesday for the Yanks and grounded into a weak 3-2-3 double play with no outs and the bases loaded in the 11th inning. In the previous inning, Cabrera hit into a double-play and stranded Judge in the batter’s box. Luckily for Aaron Boone’s squad, the Twins were just as sloppy and never responded.
Judge, meanwhile, became just the third player in MLB history to hit 55 homers through his team’s first 136 games, joining alleged steroid titans Sammy Sosa (58 in 1999) and Barry Bonds (57 in 2001). The 30 year old also set the franchise record for most home runs in a season by a right-handed batter.
His solo shot just cleared the left field fence off Louie Varland’s slider, moving Judge within six homers of Maris’ 61-year record. The Twins were then careful to avoid Judge and intentionally walked him twice.
Boone said he understands the opposition won’t allow Judge to beat them, adding pressure to his struggling teammates to produce.
“Step up,” Boone said.
With Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo unavailable for the first game Wednesday for various reasons, Gleyber Torres was the other big threat in the lineup and he nailed a two-run homer in the sixth inning.
But Cabrera deserved the game ball for not only his game-winning single, but also for gunning out Minnesota’s potential go-ahead run from right field in the 10th inning.
“We love his poise and his makeup and he’s not afraid and more great defensive plays tonight,” Boone said.
The sparse crowd in the first game at Yankee Stadium, with swaths of sections entirely empty, was mostly the product of a doubleheader on short notice following Tuesday’s rainout.
Yanks starter Domingo German endured a rocky beginning, giving up a leadoff double to Luis Arraez and a two-run homer in the first inning to Jose Miranda. German settled and managed six innings with three runs and seven hits.
THE HITS KEEP ON COMING
With the hope Rizzo’s headaches will subside in the next couple days, the Yankees officially placed the first baseman on the IL on Wednesday, retroactive Saturday.
Boone said the doctor’s advised Rizzo to avoid activity until Thursday afternoon as they determine the source of the headaches, which may have been triggered by an epidural Rizzo received last week to treat his lower back.
Boone said Rizzo has felt fine while resting.
His absence prompted the Yanks too call-up Guzman from Triple A for his MLB debut and bat him cleanup.
Boone added that the team might place LeMahieu (sore big toe) on IL.