MINNEAPOLIS — At least for one night, the Yankee offense did actually heat up with the weather.
The Yankees had their biggest offensive outburst in over two weeks in an 8-4 win over the hapless Twins on a 95-degree night at Target Field on Tuesday.
For most of the night, they did most of their damage in unusual fashion, though they pulled away courtesy of a pair of ninth-inning homers from Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar to snap a four-game losing streak.
Yet they still have a hard time producing hits with runners in scoring position.
Against last-place Minnesota, though, the Yankees ran the bases well and took advantage of the Twins’ mistakes.
They went ahead for good in the eighth.
Clint Frazier, pinch hitting for Rougned Odor to lead off against left-hander Taylor Rogers, singled, as did Andujar. The Yankees then went to the bench again, as Tyler Wade pinch ran for Frazier. Brett Gardner got down a sacrifice bunt to get DJ LeMahieu up with runners at second and third and one out.
With the infield in, LeMahieu grounded to second, but Wade raced home and beat the throw from Jorge Polanco to make it 4-3. Andujar scored on an Aaron Judge force out, as the Yankees took a two-run lead and turned it over to Chad Green.
It was a much-needed victory to open an 11-day, eight-game road trip, as the Yankees were in danger of falling to just one game over .500.
“We’ve got to start playing better baseball and get more points on the board, obviously,” Aaron Boone said before the game. “We’re beyond small-sample stages. We need to get better and we need to continue to improve.”
There were positive signs against a Twins team that is typically overmatched against the Yankees. But the Yankees’ recent 3-10 stretch also included a sweep at the hands of the lowly Tigers, so nothing can be taken for granted.
On Tuesday, Jordan Montgomery gave up two runs in the bottom of the first to put the Yankees in another early hole.
Ex-Yankee Michael Pineda retired 11 batters in a row following LeMahieu’s double to open the game.
The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the fifth.
Judge walked to drive in Andujar — who drew his first walk of the season — to get the Yankees on the board.
That proved to be Pineda’s last batter of the night, as right-hander Jorge Alcala came on to face Gleyber Torres and threw a wild pitch with a 1-2 count to score Gardner and tie the game.
Torres lined to short before Giancarlo Stanton grounded to short to keep it 2-2.
They loaded the bases in the sixth and Gardner hit a fly ball to left. Trevor Larnach threw home to try to get Sanchez, but Willians Astudillo cut off the throw and Sanchez scored to make it 3-2.
In the bottom of the inning, another former Yankee, Rob Refsnyder, drilled an RBI double to left-center, just missing a go-ahead homer. Refsnyder was removed with left hamstring tightness after the play.
With runners on the corners in the seventh, Gio Urshela popped out and Sanchez then struck out swinging to end the threat, as the Yankees went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position on the night.
But this time, they overcame it, getting 2 ¹/₃ scoreless innings from Jonathan Loaisiga and Green before Wandy Peralta gave up a run in the ninth.
“To be the team I, the staff and all the players believe we can be, we need to start making it happen,’’ Boone said. “We’ve got plenty of runway. It’s there for the taking, but we’ve got to go out and do it. Talk is cheap. We need to improve if we’re gonna have a chance to get to the final spot we want to be in.”