By TYLER MASON
The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz hit two-run homers off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning, and the Minnesota Twins beat the New York Yankees 7-5 Thursday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
“Pretty amazing effort by our guys, and those at-bats in the last inning were pretty spectacular,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.
Giancarlo Stanton drove a slider off the end of his bat 422 feet for a three-run, first-inning homer off J.A. Happ, Gio Urshela also homered and an all right-handed New York Yankees lineup built a 5-2 lead by the sixth inning.
But Chapman blew a save for the second time in 14 chances. He threw just five of nine pitches for strikes and his velocity was down from his usual 99-100 mph as he allowed all four batters to reach.
“He started out with a couple sliders, clearly missed his spots on a couple,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Chapman. “A lot of times when he has those outings, usually he’ll find the velocity within the course of the outing.”
Jorge Polanco singled on a 3-1 pitch leading off the ninth, and Donaldson hit a 438-foot homer on a 95.5 mph pitch with a 1-0 count. Willians Astudillo singled on the first pitch, and Cruz hit one 457 feet on the next offering, a 97.8 mph fastball. The homers by Donaldson and Cruz were the longest allowed by Chapman since at least 2015.
“He’s the best closer in the game, so it was remarkable to be able to score four runs against him,” Cruz said.
This was just the third time Chapman allowed multiple homers in a game, after Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar and Kurt Suzuki on June 18, 2016, and Philadelphia’s Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis on May 19, 2013, according to MLB. Cruz had the 14th walk-off hit of his big league career.
“Probably the last couple outings I’ve been a little passive, especially the first couple hitters of the inning,” Chapman said through a translator.
Happ, wearing a beard in his post-Yankees career, gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings. He was displeased about being phased out of the Yankees’ rotation down the stretch last year, then signed with the Twins as a free agent.
Stanton hit his 12th homer this season and third in two games.
Yankees starter Michael King allowed two runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings, remaining winless in three starts since replacing injured Corey Kluber in the rotation.
“I felt like I nibbled a little bit in that first inning,” King said. “I started kind of getting into a groove in that second, third inning.”
New York’s Chris Gittens was initially credited with a two-run homer in the fourth for his first big league hit on an-opposite-field drive down the right-field line, but the fair call by first base umpire Tripp Gibson was reversed by Hunter Wendelstedt, a decision confirmed by video review.
Aaron Judge moved over from right and made his third start of the season in center for the Yankees.
The short-handed Twins (24-38) started three rookie outfielders and lost another outfielder when Alex Kirilloff sustained a low-grade left ankle sprain in the first inning. Nick Gordon replaced Kirilloff and took over in center field.
Gordon had previously played just one career inning in center in his professional career.
∫ STANTON TO BENCH: Stanton will be limited to a bench role this weekend in Philadelphia, when there is no DH.
“I don’t plan on using him in the outfield yet,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “But it is something that as the summer unfolds and hopefully I’m still very open to having that being in play.”
∫ TRAINER’S ROOM: Yankees: LHP Zack Britton (March 15 surgery to remove a bone spur in left elbow) walked one in a hitless inning for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in his fifth rehab appearance and could be activated this weekend in Philadelphia. … 1B Luke Voit (right oblique strain) could start an injury rehab assignment Sunday or Tuesday, putting him on track to be activated June 22. … RHP Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27, 2020) is to make his second minor league injury rehabiliation start Saturday, throwing about three innings and 40 pitches. Boone said Severino could be called up before is ready to throw 80-90 pitches in an outing.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton (right hip strain) hit a pair of two-run homers Thursday in his rehab start with Triple-A St. Paul. … The Twins are still deciding if right-hander Kenta Maeda (right adductor strain) will make another rehab start. Baldelli said it’s “very possible” Maeda’s next start will be in the majors.