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Austin, Didi power Yanks to 5th straight win

April 25, 2018

NEW YORK -- Didi Gregorius raced from his position to barehand a slow ninth-inning roller, whipping a strong throw to first base that appeared to be the final out of the evening. The Twins signaled for a review, but Tyler Austin nodded knowingly to the shortstop. This call, like pretty

NEW YORK -- Didi Gregorius raced from his position to barehand a slow ninth-inning roller, whipping a strong throw to first base that appeared to be the final out of the evening. The Twins signaled for a review, but Tyler Austin nodded knowingly to the shortstop. This call, like pretty much everything this week, was going the Yankees' way.
Gregorius continued to swing one of the hottest bats in the game while Austin made his presence felt on both sides of the ball, crushing a three-run homer and contributing a dazzling sliding catch through the fog that helped to lead the Yankees to their fifth consecutive victory, a 7-4 decision over the Twins on Wednesday evening at Yankee Stadium.
"That's what you want," Gregorius said. "We've got pitchers doing the job and offense doing the job. That's how a team is going to come together and play right. That's how we're trying to keep that going, especially in weather like this. If we can manage to do this, when the weather gets hot, I think we're going to be even better."

Gregorius reached base five times and became the first Yankees shortstop to homer in four consecutive games, launching a third-inning solo shot off Twins starter Lance Lynn that marked Gregorius' team-leading ninth of the season. Austin followed three batters later with a blast down the left-field line that gave New York the lead.

"I feel pretty good," said Austin, whose five homers lead all American League rookies. "The big thing is just trying to go out there and compete, and not get caught up in the moment, whether big or small. Just try to put the ball in play."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone tried to coax starter Sonny Gray through five innings, but despite being paired with backup catcher Austin Romine, the right-hander continued to struggle with command over an inefficient 104-pitch effort.
Gray left a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth, and Chad Green pitched out of trouble to pin Gray's line at three runs and six hits, with five walks and four strikeouts. Gray has been unable to complete five innings in four of his five starts this season, yet he said that he viewed Wednesday's start as a "step in the right direction."

"I think there were a lot of positives to take away from it," Gray said. "I felt good out there. I wasn't necessarily able to get in some type of rhythm, but when we can come away with the win, we go home happy. It was a struggle at times, but I felt like I had the right mentality and the right mindset."

Miguel Sano gave Minnesota a quick lead with a two-run homer that was the slugger's hardest-hit homer of his career at 114.6 mph. Gregorius answered in the home half of the first against Lynn, slapping an RBI single that extended his hitting streak to nine games.

"That's been our mindset this whole year, even last year," Aaron Judge said. "If we get down early, it's all right, we've got nine innings. We just go up there, keep grinding out at-bats and working counts. The biggest thing is to get some runners on when Didi is hitting. That's all we need to do."
New York tacked on a run in the fourth as Gleyber Torres doubled and scored on a Judge sacrifice fly. Lynn lasted 3 2/3 innings, charged with six runs and seven hits. He walked three (one intentionally) and struck out three.

Max Kepler added a seventh-inning RBI off Green, but Austin snared Robbie Grossman's foul pop off Chasen Shreve as the Twins left the bases loaded. Aroldis Chapman worked a scoreless ninth for his fourth save, sending Minnesota to its sixth straight loss.
Torres collected the first extra-base hit of his career with a fourth-inning double off Lynn. At 21 years and 133 days, Torres is the youngest Yankee to record an extra-base hit since Derek Jeter doubled on Sept. 26, 1995, at Milwaukee at 21 years, 92 days old.

Austin bailed Shreve out in the seventh inning with two outs and the bases loaded as the Yankees clung to a 6-4 lead. Grossman popped an 0-1 pitch into foul ground down the right-field line, and Austin gave chase, sprinting 90 feet to catch up to the ball, per Statcast™. Peering above his left shoulder, Austin snared the ball while going into a slide and meeting the padded wall.

"It was pretty tough," Austin said. "It was the first fly ball hit to me, and I didn't see it. I took my eye off it, looked back up and had no idea where it was. It was pretty foggy out there, but I thought all of our guys did a good job tracking fly balls, and we got the win."
"It got me hyped up, and the guys in the dugout were fired up. You just love seeing that. Everything is kind of clicking for Tyler right now -- swinging the bat well, working good counts and making great plays on defense. It's fun to be around." -- Judge, on Austin
The game ended on a review, as Eduardo Escobar hit the slow roller to Gregorius at short and was ruled out at first on the throw. After a review, the call was upheld, giving Chapman the save. If Escobar would have been safe, Ryan LaMarre was set to pinch-hit for Logan Morrison as the game's potential tying run.

The Yankees will try to complete a sweep of the four-game series against the Twins on Thursday, when left-hander Jordan Montgomery draws the start at 1:05 p.m. ET. Montgomery has a nine-start unbeaten streak that is tied for the sixth-longest active string in the Majors. Right-hander Kyle Gibson will start for Minnesota.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.