Buxton was a fixture of both Twins rallies against Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes on Wednesday night. He reached base three times with a single, homer and walk, while Correa scored twice and Jose Miranda knocked three hits as Minnesota used flurries of singles and walks and a hail of long balls in an all-around effort that sank a solid New York pitching staff in an 8-1 victory at Target Field.
This marked the second-largest margin of victory by the Twins over the Yankees this century, behind only a 10-1 Minnesota win on July 24, 2015. It’s also the Yankees’ largest margin of defeat this season, as they hadn’t lost by more than five runs entering Wednesday.
“We showed what we’re capable of as a team -- we pitch, we play defense and we can score runs,” Twins starter Chris Archer said. “When we step on the field, that’s what we are capable of every single night.”
Even without Correa, the Twins had tagged Jameson Taillon for a season-worst four earned runs in Tuesday’s series-opening loss. And with the shortstop’s return making the lineup close to whole on Wednesday, the Twins also dealt a season-worst four earned runs to Cortes before they kept adding with another pair of two-run frames in the sixth and seventh, backing a solid five innings of two-hit, one-run ball from Archer to even the series.
This is the kind of offense the Twins needed in a series in which they’re lacking their top starters and sending Cole Sands, Archer and Dylan Bundy to the mound from their depleted rotation against the Yankees’ top three -- Taillon, Cortes and Gerrit Cole. With all of those pitching injuries for Minnesota corresponding to their toughest stretch this season with series against the Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays, the bats have stepped up when needed most.
Things feel different, too, when Buxton’s bat is picking up from its slump and Correa is once again slotted in behind him.
“Putting Carlos back in the lineup extends things in a really good way for us,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “When you're at your strongest and you have your stars out there, there’s a reason they get the results -- because they’re good. Carlos is a really good player. I think maybe the respect that the other players get in the lineup extends down, too, when you wedge him in there.”
Though Cortes blanked Minnesota his first time through the lineup, the Twins say they caught on to his deceptive delivery and made the necessary adjustments. They ambushed the crafty left-hander with five singles in six plate appearances to open the fourth inning, with a solid knock to left from Buxton and a bloop to right by Correa keying the rally. Gio Urshela, Miranda and Max Kepler all followed with singles as the Twins plated a pair.
Then, the offense flexed its muscles in the fifth, as catcher Ryan Jeffers snapped an 0-for-21 slump with his first homer since May 3, a Statcast-projected 440-foot blast to the third deck in left field, and Buxton followed with his 13th homer of the season, a 424-foot wallop to the deepest part of the park in left-center.
Buxton and Correa also keyed the Twins’ rally in the seventh inning, when they drew walks off reliever Clarke Schmidt to open the frame and Miranda later followed with a two-run single, capping his first career three-hit game. After struggling mightily to begin his career, the Twins’ No. 3 prospect is now hitting .390/.405/.732 (a 1.137 OPS) with seven multi-hit games since May 20.
“I see a confident young man,” Baldelli said. “I see a guy that’s not afraid to go out there and make a mistake right now.”
This matchup featured the two most productive offenses in the league by OPS+, and after being blown out on Tuesday, the Twins showed that they’re capable of punching back against their historical nemesis with one of their most polished all-around efforts of the season. They’ll get a chance to snatch the series on Thursday -- and their lineup, finally healing, is forcing the issue.
“Look, we’re capable of doing this every single night,” Archer said. “We’re playing really good teams, and we’ll see how we stack up and what we have to do to be ultra-competitive against those guys.”