MINNEAPOLIS — Nothing was going right. Giancarlo Stanton was “pissed” at himself for three glaring mistakes in the outfield. The Yankees bats went silent and even Nestor Cortes, the best pitcher on the team this season, couldn’t get through the fifth inning.
Cortes allowed more than three runs for the first time this season and the Twins beat the Yankees 8-1 at Target Field on Wednesday.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Yankees (40-16), who still maintain the best record in baseball. The Twins (33-25) snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bombers, who are 94-37 against Minnesota since 2002.
Stanton wasn’t letting Cortes stand alone in taking the loss Wednesday night.
“If you don’t have the best defensive plays and you make an inning longer for him, then you know sometimes that happens,” Stanton said, taking the blame, when asked about the Yankees ace struggling.
Stanton made two misplays at the wall that helped the Twins pile on and work Cortes’ pitch count up.
“I gotta make those plays to put us in a better position to not let the game break away,” Stanton said. “So it’s a continuously evolving game with each play. So even though they ended up with two runs … I just gotta put us in a better position to not let the game get away. And, yeah, wasn’t my best night out there and just have to chalk it up and put it in the past.”
After a spectacular run through the rotation, in which each Yankees starter went at least seven innings and allowed one earned run or less, the last two nights have been a struggle for the Yankees starters. Jameson Taillon, who had taken a perfect game into the eighth inning last week, couldn’t get out of the fifth Tuesday night. He had the benefit of the offense teeing off on the Twins pitching and picking him up.
Wednesday night, Chris Archer, who saw the Yankees a lot with the Rays, shut down the Bombers offense. The righty held the Yanks to a run on two hits and four walks over five innings. He struck out two. The Bombers had the bases loaded in the fourth with two walks and a fielder’s choice and Gleyber Torres grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Instead, the Yankees couldn’t help out as Cortes had his worst start of his season, going just 4.1 innings. The 27-year-old allowed a season-high four runs on seven hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out three. Cortes had nine swings-and-misses, four on his cutter.
Two of those hits were home runs, the first time this season Cortes had allowed multiple homers in a start.
“I mean, I felt pretty good the first innings,” Cortes said. “I was commanding my pitches, throwing to the right areas and there were a few that got away from me in the fourth and fifth inning that I wish I could get back.
“They are a good hitting team and they made me battle all night.”
The left-hander had not given up more than three earned runs since Aug. 10, 2021 against the Royals. The four runs the Twins scored on him snapped a streak of 19 straight starts having allowed three earned runs or less. He got through the Twins lineup unscathed the first time.
The second time, however, Bryan Buxton made Cortes battle and began wearing him down. He gave up back-to-back singles to Buxton and Carlos Correa to lead off the fourth inning. Buxton scored on Gio Urshela’s fly ball to right which Stanton couldn’t get a good read on it and seemed to be unable to find the wall, allowing it to drop at the base.
“From my perspective, I was off by a few feet. I thought the ball was closer to the wall,” Stanton said. “So I was a little off in my depth perception. So, yes, these mistakes can happen.”
First baseman Jose Miranda singled in Correa on a ground ball to third base.
Ryan Jeffers led off the fifth with a 440-foot homer and Buxton hit a one-out, 424-foot homer after him.
Clarke Schmidt allowed four more in 1.2 innings of work on three hits. Manny Banuelos held the Twins scoreless for two innings.
The last time Yankees pitchers allowed 6 or more runs was May 24 against the Orioles.