Blame the loss, at least partially, on a Yankee Stadium home run. The home team’s manager and starting pitcher did Saturday after the Yankees' 7-3 loss to the Twins.
The Yankees, who had two hits in the first seven innings and two errors by Miguel Andujar in his return to the lineup, felt victimized by a long ball that, in their estimation, traveled just far enough to be costly.
Starter J.A Happ did not allow a hit until the third inning, but that was a two-run homer by righthanded-hitting Mitch Garver that went over the auxiliary scoreboard in right-center, barely clearing the leap of rightfielder Cameron Maybin.
“The game has changed,’’ Happ said. “Guys are just able to [hit] the ball the other way. Especially in this stadium. Put a good swing on it and sometimes that’s enough. You got to live with that and kind of move on, and try to pitch away from that scenario.’’
Happ, Aaron Boone said, “came out really crisp, was really efficient. Gave up the home run, kind of that Yankee Stadium one, which got them going a little bit. Then just a couple things didn’t quite go his way.’’
Happ nearly gave up another Stadium homer but got some help this time. With two runners on in the fourth inning, Jonathan Schoop sent a drive to rightfield that appeared destined to barely clear the wall, but this time the leaping Maybin was able to glove the ball and bring it back -- prompting an ''Oh my God'' from the incredulous Happ.
“Maybin with a huge catch to kind of preserve it a little bit,’’ Boone said. “Garver hits the two-run homer, probably not a homer in a lot of other places. Even the one Cameron took back, that’s a fly ball.’’
Happ said of Maybin's catch, “That was huge … If I could go back and throw a couple more zeros, that probably would have helped, too. That was big. It would have put us in a bigger hole.’’
There was nothing negative to be said about the Twins' second and third home runs. C.J. Cron hit a 409-foot shot into the Twins' bullpen in left-center against Happ with two outs in the sixth, making it 4-0. In the ninth, Nelson Cruz reached the bleachers beyond the Twins' bullpen for the second straight game, hitting a 436-foot drive off Triple-A call-up Jake Barrett.
The Yankees' Gary Sanchez hit a 444-foot blast to that area in the eighth, giving him 11 home runs in 70 at-bats and 21 RBIs in 19 games this season. He has five home runs in 29 at-bats (eight games) since returning from the injured list.
Happ (1-3, 4.93) gave up four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and experienced location problems. “Obviously, I wanted better results. I felt about as good as I've felt so far this year,’’ he said. “Started out strong. Missed a couple of [pitches] and they made me pay ... Overall, I still feel like I made a lot of good pitches, but you try to move on.''
Twins starter Jake Odorizzi (4-2, 2.78 ERA) allowed no runs, two hits and four walks in six innings, striking out eight, as the Twins snapped their Yankee Stadium losing streak at eight games. The Twins are 2-13 here since the start of the 2015 season and 10-26 overall at the current Stadium.
Andujar lined a single and drew a walk to go along with his errors, one on a misplayed grounder and one on a wild throw to second. “Good to have him back. Obviously, a couple of misplays in the field,’’ Boone said. “That's just something we're going to have to continue to grind through. ‘’
Andujar said he felt “no pain, not at all’’ from the slightly torn labrum in his right shoulder that sidelined him for more than a month. “I felt better than I expected,’’ he said. As for his miscues, he said, “Errors are going to be part of the game.’’
With Andujar returning from the injured list and starter James Paxton going on the IL on the same day, Boone rejects the notion that this is what the Yankees will be for the season.
"I'd say that's how it's been so far,’’ he said, “But hopefully it turns into getting more back. And that's what we believe will happen over time. But as it is right now, guys continue to grind away at it and find a way. And that's what we need to continue to do knowing that over time, we're going to continue to get guys back.’’