MINNEAPOLIS — Before first-pitch Wednesday, the Yankees knew the deal.
The hot-on-their-heels A’s had already put a 10-spot on the board in Baltimore against the rancid Orioles, well on their way to yet another victory.
The Yankees responded by nearly getting no-hit.
They fell, 3-1, to the Twins in front of 24,134 at Target Field, a loss that shaved their lead over Oakland for the top AL wild-card spot to one game.
The Yankees, who went without a hit the first 7 1/3 innings in finishing 4-5 on this three-city trip, are 10 games behind the Red Sox in the East.
“We know what’s at stake, we know what we need to do,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who lined out in the ninth inning to extend his recent skid to 8-for-71. “Not an ideal day today, or road trip, but we know what we need to do. We’re going to come out on Friday and get it done.”
The Yankees (90-56), now 7-9 in their last 16 games, are off Thursday before starting a nine-game homestand Friday night against the Blue Jays.
“We expect more and we’ve got to get it rolling,” Aaron Boone said.
Twins righthander Jake Odorizzi had a no-hitter until Greg Bird’s RBI double into the gap in left-center with one out in the eighth made it 3-1.
The Yankees to that point had hit a handful of balls hard but had nothing to show for it. They avoided being no-hit for the eighth time in franchise history and for the first time since June 11, 2003 when six Astros pitchers accomplished the feat.
“I thought we had a number of quality at-bats off him,” Boone said of Odorizzi. “Hit a number of balls on the button, a number of balls to the fence, but he pitched well. He mixed his three pitches and we just weren’t able to get it done.”
Odorizzi, who struck out five and walked three over 7 1/3 innings, had been there before against the Yankees. On May 29, 2016 Odorizzi, then with Tampa, no-hit the Yankees for 6 1/3 innings before Starlin Castro homered, the only hit of a 2-1 Yankees victory.
Odorizzi, 5-10 with a 4.57 ERA coming in, got a different result Wednesday.
After Bird’s double, lefty Taylor Rogers struck out Gleyber Torres. Righthander Trevor Hildenberger was next and he struck out Andrew McCutchen.
Hildenberger, who hauled a 4.14 ERA into the night, watched Aaron Hicks hit a screaming liner to right to start the ninth but rightfielder Max Kepler made a diving catch. It was one of several stellar defensive plays by the Twins (67-78). Miguel Andujar singled and Stanton sent a laser to right but right at Kepler for the second out. Didi Gregorius grounded to first to end it.
If there was one positive, it was the performance of Luis Severino, who came in 4-5 with a 6.83 ERA in his last 11 starts but allowed one run and four hits over 5 2/3 innings Wednesday. He expressed his displeasure with Boone for pulling him with two outs in the sixth for David Robertson.
“I had like 80-something pitches,” said Severino, who threw 83. “But he has his reasons. Robertson came in and did a good job.”
Robertson, who hadn’t allowed an earned run since July 29, got out of the sixth but allowed two two-out runs in the seventh that made it 3-0.
“It’s not lack of effort,” Robertson said of the team overall in this stretch. “We’re trying out there. Things just didn’t happen.”