Aaron Boone thought the Yankees should have been out of the eighth inning before Carlos Correa’s spot in the order came up.
Instead, a controversial call at first base extended the frame and gave the former Astros star the chance to play villain.
Correa delivered, drilling a two-run home run off reliever Greg Weissert to lift the Twins to a 4-3 victory over the Yankees on Thursday night in The Bronx.
After scoring a run but leaving that same run 90 feet away in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees mounted another rally in the ninth. With one out, Oswald Peraza singled into center field before Aaron Hicks doubled to the right-field corner off right-hander Michael Fulmer.
The Twins then intentionally walked Aaron Judge to load the bases for Gleyber Torres, who struck out.
That left the game up to cleanup hitter Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who struck out to end it.
“We still had our chances,” said Boone, still visibly ticked off about the eighth-inning call. “Just come up short.”
The Yankees (83-55) missed a chance for a four-game sweep in a rare loss to the Twins. That cut their AL East lead to 4 ½ games over the inactive Rays ahead of another big three-game showdown between the two teams this weekend.
The play that set up Correa’s blast came with one out in the top of the eighth inning. Jake Cave hit a ground ball to the left of first base that Marwin Gonzalez fielded and threw to Wandy Peralta covering first where Cave was called safe.
The Yankees challenged the call, with replays showing that Peralta touched the bag first but had jumped the throw from Gonzalez. It wasn’t clear if Peralta had the ball secured in his glove — or caught against his chest — when he stepped on first base, prompting the on-field call to stand.
“I think he’s out,” Boone said. “We have to live with it[call] stands.’ That’s just how the system works.”
One out later, Correa crushed a slider from Weissert for a 4-2 lead.
The Yankees then put together a rally in the bottom of the inning, which Judge started with a double and eventually came home to score from third on a wild pitch that got past Gary Sanchez to make it 4–3.
Then, with runners on the corners and two outs, Boone pinch hit Giancarlo Stanton, who appeared for the first time since Monday when he fouled a ball off his left foot. Stanton worked a nine-inch putt but eventually chased ball four and struck out to end the threat.
Making his first start after a brief stint on the injured list for a strained left groin, Nestor Cortes picked up where he left off. The lefty retired the first 12 batters he faced before Gio Urshela lined a single to lead off the fifth inning.
After Urshela took second on a wild pitch, he scored on Sanchez’s double as the pair of former Yankees combined to pull the Twins within 2-1. It also knocked Cortes out of the game after 58 pitches.
“Everything felt great,” Cortes said. “Today was just about commanding and giving my team the best shot to win.”
Clarke Schmidt relieved Cortes and walked the first batter he faced before allowing a one-out single through the open left side to Nick Gordon that tied the game at two. Schmidt went on to pitch three innings of relief to aid a treasured Yankees bullpen.
For the first time since his ill-fated tenure in The Bronx, Sonny Gray started against the Yankees and struck out seven over six solid innings. The only damage came on Miguel Andujar’s first major league homer of the season, a two-run shot that gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
“You have to look at this as an opportunity and try to contribute as much as you can,” Andujar, who was called up from Triple-A earlier in the day to replace the injured DJ LeMahieu, said through an interpreter. “The aim is to win as many games as we can, especially where we are now.”