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Yankees Rebound, and Aaron Judge Takes a Big Step Forward

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“We’re not at that point where we want to throw him into games yet,” Boone said. “We just want to get through the next couple of days here as he ramps up the amount of swings out on the field, and continue to build that momentum.”

The early team workout session also provided an opportunity for the former Yankees Tyler Austin, Jake Cave and Gregorio Petit, now with the Twins, to catch up with some familiar faces from the Yankee system. Austin, who was traded to Minnesota for Lance Lynn on July 30, has seven home runs but missed his fourth consecutive game with a stiff back. Cave, traded in March, began the season in Class AAA and replaced the injured Byron Buxton in center field about two months ago. Cave checked off the names of old teammates now at Target Field: Judge, Greg Bird, Kyle Higashioka, Tyler Wade, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.

“It’s cool to be able to see them on a major-league field,” Cave said. “It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see Andujar was going to rake. He did it on every level. Higgy was really, really good behind the plate and worked really hard.”

Following Sunday’s 3-2 loss in Seattle, the Yankees were surely happy to be visiting Minnesota, a club it has dominated since 2002 — and especially recently. With their eighth consecutive regular-season win over the Twins, the Yankees improved to 20-4 against them since July 2015, including a victory in last year’s wild-card playoff game. J.A. Happ, 6-0 with a 2.70 earned run average in eight starts as a Yankee, worked six scoreless innings for the victory as the Yankees moved three games ahead of idle Oakland for the first American League wild card spot.

The Yankees had reached their hotel about midnight, and they looked like a tired lineup early on, stranding runners in scoring position the first five innings against Twins starter Kyle Gibson. Boone made one significant change in his lineup, giving Bird a rare start, with the hot-hitting Luke Voit getting a day off to rest a stiff back. It failed to help the Yankees, as Bird went 0 for 3 with two walks, dropping his average to .195.


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