Hours before the Yankees’ series opener against the Twins, Aaron Boone was asked by a reporter about his team’s well-documented dominance of Minnesota.
“There’s that question,” the expectant manager initially responded. From there, his response downplayed the fact that, as good as the Twins have been, the Yankees have long had his number.
“They’re a very good team,” Boone continued. “That team that we’re going to play the next four days has a chance to be really good this year. They got a formidable rotation. They got a back-end, they got star players. So I don’t even look at that at all.
“I understand the history that goes back, but every team is a little different.”
Things were certainly different on Thursday, as the first-place Twins turned the tables on the Yankees with a nine-run first inning and an 11-2 victory in the Bronx. It was the first time the Yankees had allowed more than nine runs in the opening frame of a game since June 18, 2000, per.
Seven of those runs were charged to rookie right-hander Jhony Brito, who faced his first adversity, and then some, after beginning his major league career withBrito entered the game with a 0.90 ERA in his first 10 innings. That number inflated to 6.75 when the 25-year-old stepped out for an early shower.
Boone attributed Brito’s problems to too many pitches thrown off the plate, including a fly-over sinker. Meanwhile, Brito said that he fell behind early in the counts, while his trademark change lacked his typical action.
“You have to have a positive mindset, even if it’s not the result you want,” the pitcher said. “Nights like this, they will happen in baseball. This is how you come back, and I can tell you that I’m going to sit down with the pitching coach tomorrow. [Matt Blake] And we’re going to review the video and we’re going to make adjustments, whatever it takes.”
Boone added that he thinks the young pitcher will finally benefit from his tough first outing.
“It’s back to work,” the captain said. “He has a great head on his shoulders. This is, unfortunately, part of the game. You get punched in the mouth in this game. He’s equipped to handle that.
“He’ll be fine and he’ll learn from it and grow from it.”
In all, Brito allowed six hits, seven earned runs, one walk, and one home run. He got just two outs when the Twins jumped on his sinker and fastball.
Right-hander Colten Brewer didn’t exactly stop the bleeding. The first man out of the pen delivered five hits, four earned runs and three long balls in 3.1 innings of work.
Fellow right-hander Ian Hamilton had better luck, striking out six in three shutout innings. So did super utility Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who recorded a scoreless inning in his first appearance as a pitcher after Jimmy Cordero did the same.
However, by the time those pitchers entered the game, it was already too late.
The Twins totaled 13 hits by the end of the night. No. 9 hitter Michael Taylor hit two home runs, while rookie Edouard Julien hit his first career home run in his second first-inning at-bat. Former star Carlos Correa, booed as always at Yankee Stadium, also went deep for Minnesota. The trio threw out Brito before the bottom of the first inning, hitting three straight home runs, prompting Boone to trade Brewer.
As the Twins’ lineup kicked off Thursday, Minnesota right-hander Joe Ryan stifled the Yankees. The starter allowed just one run, a solo homer by Anthony Rizzo, as he struck out 10 and didn’t walk a single run in seven innings of work. Ryan allowed just three hits.
Rizzo added a second solo home run in the ninth. As part of the offensive silencing, Aaron Judge’s on-base streak ended at 45 straight games.
“He was getting ahead of himself,” Rizzo said of Ryan. “Then he was throwing his fastball. Command, it was strike one, strike two right away, it seems like everyone. He has a good life on his fastball, he dominates the zone, and usually when you can do that as a pitcher, you’ll be fine.”
The Yankees will try to get back to winning ways against the Twins on Friday when Nestor Cortes takes the mound. The lefty pitched well in his first two starts of the season, being limited to three earned runs in 10.1 innings.
Right-hander Tyler Mahle, who has a 4.09 ERA, is scheduled to start for the Twins.