The Yankees tend to beat up on the Twins even when they are playoff-bound — and then crush them even more in October.
So when a struggling edition of the Twins arrived in The Bronx on Thursday, they just served as more fodder for the red-hot Yankees.
With a spark from the bottom of their lineup and another solid start from Jameson Taillon, the Yankees ran out to a big lead and then hung on for their season-high seventh straight win, 7-5.
“You know you’re not going to end up winning every day, but I do feel like they’re playing with a lot of confidence that we expect to do something special,” manager Aaron Boone said. “A lot of good things are happening to allow us to win ballgames. The fun part about it is that it’s taken everyone in that room.”
The Yankees (70-52) improved to 26-10 against the Twins (54-68) since the start of 2015 — not including a perfect 4-0 against them in the 2017 and 2019 playoffs — while winning their 69th game of the season by two runs or less.
They were on their way to a rare laugher with a 6-0 lead before the Twins got to Taillon for three quick runs in the sixth inning.
Zack Britton gave up another run in the eighth that made it 6-4, but worked out of trouble by striking out Josh Donaldson (0-for-4). Giancarlo Stanton got the run back in the bottom of the inning when he lined a solo home run to the short porch.
Chad Green then gave up a solo homer to Miguel Sano in the ninth, but still secured the save — the Yankees’ seventh straight game with a save, tying an MLB record.
On a day when the Yankees had thumpers in each of the top five spots in their lineup — Luke Voit, Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo and Stanton — it was Andrew Velazquez (No. 7) and Kyle Higashioka (No. 8) who served as the sparkplugs. They combined to go 4-for-6 with four runs scored, capped off by Higashioka’s two-run homer in the fourth that put the Yankees up 6-0.
“For all of us, especially us at the bottom of the order, we just want to contribute to wins,” Higashioka said.
Velazquez got the Yankees’ offense going in the third inning, leading off with a triple drilled to the gap in right-center field. The Bronx native came around to score on a double by Higashioka for the 1-0 lead.
After Twins starter John Gant walked No. 9 hitter Tyler Wade, Voit made him pay by roping a two-run double down the left-field line to make it 3-0. Voit took third on the throw home, which allowed him to score on Rizzo’s sacrifice fly to put the Yankees up 4-0.
“It’s big — because we got a bunch of humongous guys on this team — to have little feisty guys that can pick it and play multiple positions and be table setters for the rest of us who need to drive in runs,” Voit said.
Taillon, meanwhile, gave up a harmless first-inning single before cruising, retiring 14 straight batters into the sixth inning. That streak was snapped when Jake Cave got hold of a fastball for a home run, and the Twins followed with a single and two doubles to make it a 6-3 game and knock Taillon out of it after 5 ¹/₃ innings.
Though Taillon was frustrated he didn’t get deeper into the game, he is now 7-0 with a 2.57 ERA over his last 12 starts.
“I feel like that’s been the sign of a good team is when you can win in a bunch of different ways,” Taillon said. “We don’t have to blow you out to win. We can win the close games. We can also slug, we can put up runs, we can have the starting pitching, the bullpen and the defense.”