Ball call, late Yankees heroics sink Twins 6-5 in New York

·3 min read

Sep. 14—If they weren't already frustrated by having to return to New York for a makeup game during the middle of a homestand or by the mechanical issues on their charter plane that led to them not getting to their hotel until 1:30 a.m. or by the misfortune of losing their starting pitcher in the first inning to an injury the day before a doubleheader, Monday's eighth inning sure did the trick.

By the time Aaron Judge's three-run homer sailed over the right-field fence in the eighth, tying a game the Twins had been winning since the beginning, and Gary Sanchez's single in the 10th sent the Yankees to a 6-5 win over the Twins on Monday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli already had been ejected, sent to watch from the clubhouse as his team was officially eliminated from the division race.

The subject of his frustration?

Home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson, who had just called ball four on a Tyler Duffey pitch to Brett Gardner that appeared to have clipped the edge of the plate, extending the inning. Had it been called a strike, the Twins would have been out of the eighth with a 5-2 lead.

Both Baldelli and Duffey, who was then pulled to make way for Alexander Colomé, registered their fervent disagreement with the call, but the call had been made, bringing all-star slugger Judge to the plate.

"It's frustrating when you go out and do your job and execute a pitch that you wanted to throw on purpose. You hit your spot you were trying to hit and the umpire just flat-out misses it," Duffey said. " ... We could've been giving high fives and getting on this plane and now we just lost and we've got to fly back for a doubleheader tomorrow."

Judge's opposite-field home run off Colomé pulled the two teams into a tie, bringing the Yankees (80-64) back from what had once been a five-run deficit.

Against rookie Luis Gil, a one-time Twins prospect who the club sent to the Yankees in 2018 for outfielder Jake Cave, the Twins (63-81) pounced. Jorge Polanco's two-run homer in the first inning was the 30th of his season, marking the first time the 28-year-old second baseman has reached that milestone.

Miguel Sanó, who is chasing that number for what would be the second time in his career, hit his 27th home run of the season shortly after, giving the Twins a four-run lead in the first inning. Sanó finished the day with three hits.

But what started out so nicely for the Twins took a dive in the bottom of the inning when starter John Gant had to depart alongside team trainer Michael Salazar after suffering a lower abdominal strain that Baldelli confirmed will send him to the injured list.

Gant, who said he felt something while warming up but wanted to see if he could "get things done," wound up throwing just 12 pitches before the Twins had to tap into their bullpen, using Luke Farrell, Caleb Thielbar, Kyle Barraclough, Duffey, Colomé and Ralph Garza Jr. to cover the remainder of the game.

The Yankees slowly chipped away against the Twins' bullpen in the late innings, scoring a run in the sixth and seventh before tying it in the eighth and ending the Twins' quick one-day trip with frustration in the 10th.

"I think there's a lot of people that are pretty pissed off after this one. We played a pretty good ballgame against a good team," Baldelli said. "Coming here on an off-day, playing a day game, everything that goes along with it. Jumped out to a nice lead. Obviously, John Gant going down early is very hard in many, many different ways. The way that played out towards the end of the game, though, it's tough to swallow."

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