NEW YORK — The Twins had to hold their breath until the last out was made at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. When it was over, Minnesota edged New York, 4-3, snapping a 10-game losing streak in the Bronx.
It was shortstop Carlos Correa who may have had his signature Twins moment in the top of the eighth inning.
When he came to the plate against right-hander Greg Weissert, the Yankee Stadium crowd of 35,551 let Correa know it hadn’t forgotten that he was on an Astros team linked to the sign-stealing scandal amid Houston’s 2017 World Series title. After all, the Astros had beaten the Bronx Bombers in the ALCS to advance to the Fall Classic that year.
The jeers had little effect on Correa because his two-run homer broke a 2-2 tie. It was his second straight game with a home run, and he gave credit to the crowd for motivation.
“I’m not going to lie to you. There is extra motivation when I play on such a big stage like Yankee Stadium,” Correa said. “The fans are in the game at every single moment. There’s a little more adrenaline, a little more focus, a little more hunger to just win games. The fans here, they not only bring the best to their home players, they bring the best out of the away players.”
It might have been Correa’s most memorable moment as a member of the Twins, but he strives for more.
“[My signature moment will come] when we make the playoffs,” he said. “That’s what I strive for. I don’t look at individual accomplishments at any of that stuff. I look at the ultimate goal and that’s where you are standing when October comes. That’s our focus right now. We still have a chance to win the division.”
Correa might not have had the chance in the eighth if not for an error by Yankees left-hander Wandy Peralta two batters earlier. With one out, Jake Cave hit a soft grounder to first baseman Marwin Gonzalez. Peralta appeared to receive the toss and step on first base before Cave touched the bag, but he didn’t have control of the baseball and Cave was ruled safe. Yankees manager Aaron Boone challenged, but the call on the field stood, despite the disbelief from the crowd.
“Yeah, I think [Cave is] out. We got to live with [the fact that the call] stands. That’s just how our system goes. We still had our chances. So we just came up a little bit short,” Boone said.
Things stayed interesting after Correa’s homer. The Yankees made it a one-run game in the bottom half of the eighth when Aaron Judge scored on a wild pitch by Jorge López, putting runners at first and third with two outs. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli brought in left-hander Caleb Thielbar, and he was greeted by slugger Giancarlo Stanton — who’d been out with an injury since Monday — pinch-hitting for Estevan Florial. Thielbar struck out Stanton on a curveball in a nine-pitch battle to escape the jam.
In the ninth, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out against Thielbar and right-hander Michael Fulmer. He struck out Gleyber Torres, then induced a grounder from Isiah Kiner-Falefa to end the game.
“We haven’t been playing the way we want to. We know that. We know we are a better team the way we have been playing, especially on these road trips,” Fulmer said after picking up his third save of the year. “Tonight was one of those things where we were playing for each other, having each other’s back.
“I mentioned that in a couple of mound meetings. Everybody is on the same page. It’s pitch selection. It’s what we are setting up. What we are trying to accomplish during certain situations. Everything worked out perfectly. That eases people’s minds that are out there playing, if everybody is on the same page.”
The Twins were on the same page for at least one game against their nemesis in New York.