Yanks win 9th straight: 'This lineup is clicking'

August 22nd, 2021

NEW YORK -- The Yankees pride themselves on the belief that a visitor behind the scenes on any given day could never tell if they were riding a hot streak or fighting a cold spell. That may be true, but the answer has become readily apparent once the game starts, a late-summer surge unable to contain their dugout swagger.

and each drove in a pair of runs to support six scoreless innings from as the Yankees continued to roll, extending their winning streak to a season-high nine games with a 7-1 victory over the Twins on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Bronx native Andrew Velazquez rounded the bases for his first Major League home run in the eighth.

“We’re just having great at-bats, top to bottom,” Stanton said. “The biggest factor has been wearing down the opposing pitcher. If we’ve got a lot of guys not chasing and forcing them to come into the zone, try to be more precise, they’re just going to make more mistakes. I think that’s what we’ve been doing.”

The Yanks (72-52) moved to a season-high 20 games over .500, batting around for five runs in the fifth inning and chasing right-hander Kenta Maeda, who exited with right forearm tightness. Stanton and Voit stroked two-run doubles in the frame, which also featured a wild pitch. Tyler Wade had two hits in the game, including a second-inning RBI single that opened the scoring.

“Hopefully that’s what we can start to do more and more -- the weight of the lineup, the quality of the at-bats up and down,” said manager Aaron Boone. “You’re not always going to break through the first time or the second time in a given game. But the more we can have those quality at-bats time and time again, you give yourself a chance to break through and have a big inning.”

Since July 6, the Yankees’ 30-11 record is the best in the Majors. They have won each of their past nine series.

“It’s certainly been a good stretch,” Cole said. “It’s catapulted us into the second half. Even in our darkest moments, we thought we were better than what our record was.”

Making his second start since returning from the COVID-19 injured list, Cole cruised to his 12th victory, pitching out of traffic in the second and fifth innings. In the second, Cole pinned two runners aboard by inducing a Willians Astudillo popout. His biggest test came in the fifth, as he permitted two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out.

The ace reared back to strike out Jorge Polanco with a 99.4 mph fastball, then froze Josh Donaldson with a 91.2 mph changeup, keeping Minnesota off the board.

“I just made good pitches,” Cole said. “I tried to get the leverage on Polanco and see if I could dictate the at-bat. Then once I did that, I got back to Donaldson and executed some good pitches to him as well.”

Cole pitched a clean sixth inning before exiting with a six-run lead at the time, having scattered five hits and a walk while striking out six. This season, Cole has made six scoreless starts of at least six innings, improving to 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 12 home starts. Polanco hit an eighth-inning homer off Lucas Luetge to break up the shutout.

“I thought he was really good,” Boone said of Cole. “All four pitches were in play for him today, and he used them all effectively. He was pitch-efficient. I thought he did a great job the couple of times he got into a jam, especially in the fifth. He executed in a big spot.”

Added the Twins’ Ryan Jeffers: “He got that big contract for a reason.”

The Yankees have dominated the Twins soundly for nearly two decades -- they’re 92-36 against Minnesota since 2002, the Majors’ best record by any team against an opponent over that span. Saturday’s win could have been even more convincing had Rougned Odor spoken a little more softly in the seventh inning.

The infielder asked for time from home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez, a request granted milliseconds before Ralph Garza Jr. delivered a pitch.

Odor swatted the ball over the wall into the right-field bullpen for what the crowd believed would be a three-run homer, and Odor jogged down the first-base line, though Anthony Rizzo held his spot at third base. The umpires waved the homer off, and though Odor struck out, the play was relegated to an odd footnote in another otherwise flawless performance.

‘It’s a lot of fun,” Voit said. “This lineup is clicking, and the boys are rolling.”