© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Mauer's grand slam leads Twins past Yankees 10-5

September 12, 2018 - 5:33 am
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Though the New York Yankees remain on pace to reach the 
100-win mark, the threat of being forced to take a cross-country trip for a 
one-and-done postseason game sure has not disappeared.
 
     This rare lopsided loss to the Minnesota Twins sure didn't help.
 
 Joe Mauer hit a grand slam to highlight a six-run fifth inning, and the Twins 
beat the Yankees for the first time in 10 meetings, a 10-5 victory on Tuesday 
night after another flop by Sonny Gray as a starter.
 
 ``We've got to do better. We go out and lay an egg like that,'' manager Aaron 
Boone said, trailing off. ``This is the time where we've got to start playing up 
to our capabilities and putting our best foot forward every single day.''
 
 Didi Gregorius answered Mauer's big bop with his own slam in the sixth. That 
was the only bright spot for the Yankees, who dropped nine games behind Boston 
in the AL East race and had their lead over Oakland for the first wild card spot 
cut to two games. The Athletics won their fifth straight game.
 
 ``Can't control what's going on over there,'' Gregorius said. ``Can only 
control what's going over here.''
 
 The major league leaders in home runs with 234, the Yankees fell to 80-36 in 
games when they go deep. They grounded into three double plays and had only five 
hits, none after Gregorius hit his second grand slam against the Twins this 
year.
 
 ``We've got to dig down right now and find it,'' Boone said, ``and try and lock 
in and get this thing rolling the right way.''
 
 Gray was dropped from the rotation in early August with an 8-8 record and 5.56 
ERA. He pitched more aggressively in four relief appearances, then returned to 
the rotation for a spot start and took a shutout into the seventh inning at 
Baltimore on Aug. 25. He made one more relief appearance and was given the start 
against the Twins to allow the rotation an extra day of rest.
 
 Gray (10-9) lasted three innings and allowed three runs _ two earned _ with 
four hits and three walks. 
 
     ``You walk guys,'' Gray said, ``and it will kill you.''
 
 The right-hander refused to acknowledge any added frustration from stumbling in 
his now-rare opportunity to start. Neither did he allow for any increased 
pressure the team might be feeling from the A's, his former team.
 
 ``We lost one game. We're fine,'' Gray said. ``I feel like everyone's in good 
spirits.''
 
     MAUER POWER
 
 Gregorius tripled and scored on Gary Sanchez's sacrifice fly for a 
second-inning lead, and Gray gave it back in a three-run third fueled by a 
two-run single by former Yankees farmhand Jake Cave. Jonathan Loaisiga fared 
even worse, forcing in a run with a bases-loaded walk to Max Kepler in the 
fifth. 
 
 Boone appeared to argue with plate umpire James Hoye that the third ball to 
Kepler actually grazed his bat for a foul ball. Three batters later, Mauer 
crushed a full-count fastball to center field where it landed in the berm beyond 
the wall. He came out for a curtain call after his fifth career grand slam, 
tying Tony Oliva for fourth place in Twins history with 597 extra-base hits.
 
 ``He's just got that ability to not let emotion or moments overtake his ability 
to perform,'' manager Paul Molitor said.
 
 The Yankees are 96-34 against the Twins, including the playoffs, and have won 
every season series since the start of 2002. They outscored the Twins 66-23 over 
the nine-game winning streak that ended.
 
   ``It's always nice to beat those guys,'' Mauer said, ``I'll tell you that.''
 
     THE OPENER
 
 Kohl Stewart (1-1) earned his first major league victory despite walking five 
batters in 3 1/3 innings. He followed reliever Tyler Duffey, who pitched two 
innings as a bullpen opener in the latest experiment by the Twins with a new 
trend that Tampa Bay started. This was their first win in three tries with the 
arrangement.
 
 ``I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just saying it's different,'' Duffey 
said. ``It worked today. If it works the next time around or doesn't, who 
knows?''
 
     DON'T JUDGE
 
 Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge missed his 44th game after being hit by a 
pitch that broke his right wrist, but for the second straight afternoon he put 
on a powerful batting practice display in addition to some defensive drills. 
Boone declined to divulge a specific timeline for Judge's return to the lineup, 
but the manager is clearly eager for that to occur. More clarity will come after 
Judge's workouts this weekend at Yankee Stadium, Boone said.
 
     TRAINER'S ROOM
 
 Yankees: With Boone preferring Austin Romine as the backstop for Gray, Sanchez 
moved from behind the plate to take a turn as the DH.
 
 Twins: Tyler Austin was the DH for the Twins, after a four-game absence because 
of back tightness. Traded by the Yankees to the Twins on July 30 for 
right-hander Lance Lynn, Austin made his first appearance against his original 
team. He singled and walked in five plate appearances. 
 
     UP NEXT
 
 Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (17-7, 3.52 ERA) will pitch the last game of the 
series, coming off his shortest turn of the season with six hits and six runs 
allowed in 2 2/3 innings in a loss at Oakland last week. After an off day on 
Thursday, Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia and Lynn will be the weekend starters 
against Toronto.
 
 Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi (5-10, 4.57 ERA) will take the mound on Wednesday 
night, reaching the 30-start mark for the third time in five years.