MINNEAPOLIS — Despite his continued struggles at the plate, DJ LeMahieu remained atop the Yankees lineup when they faced the Twins Tuesday night at Target Field.
Aaron Boone made some slight adjustments to the batting order, putting Aaron Judge back in the two-hole, followed by Gleyber Torres, with Giancarlo Stanton hitting cleanup and Gio Urshela fifth.
It paid off, as LeMahieu had two hits and drove in the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice in the eighth inning of an 8-4 win.
His leadoff double was LeMahieu’s first extra-base hit since May 18.
LeMahieu said he felt the same at the plate as he has for most of the season. The only difference was “the results were there.”
Boone said he never considered bumping LeMahieu down, even with his numbers down significantly from the last two seasons.
“When I sat down and thought about a couple different ways I wanted to go, DJ was still at the top,’’ Boone said. “It’s gonna take all of us as an entire lineup doing their job to make sure we’re meeting expectations. A big part of that is DJ at the top and we need to get him in a good space. It’s been a grind for him. If this is gonna work, we need to get him rolling like the MVP candidate he’s been for us.”
Said LeMahieu: “I don’t really care where I hit. When I’m myself and getting on base, good things happen. I haven’t been doing that great.”
Zack Britton retired just one batter in a rehab appearance with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Tuesday. He allowed four runs on three hits and a walk. Before the game, Boone said he likely would pitch there Tuesday and Thursday before being reevaluated in his comeback from spring training elbow surgery.
“He’s getting close,’’ Boone said. “He’ll make the next two, definitely, and if it goes well, evaluate from there.”
Another lefty missing from the bullpen, Justin Wilson, is doing “really well” in his comeback from a strained right hamstring, but there’s no update on his timetable, according to Boone.
Third base coach Phil Nevin was in the dugout again Tuesday night. He got the IV removed from his arm after being treated for COVID and staph infection, but has not been cleared to return to the field.
Nevin was ejected from Sunday night’s loss to the Red Sox after arguing a called third strike to Rougned Odorin the bottom of the ninth, a call home plate umpire Gabe Morales clearly missed. Boone said he called the league about the play, but not about the call. He said it was about its “aftermath,” when bench coach Carlos Mendoza was apparently tossed incorrectly by crew chief Bill Miller, instead of hitting coach Marcus Thames.
Asked about the criticism that he doesn’t take his players to task enough for their poor play, Boone said, “I don’t do things by design. I react to what I believe and what I’m seeing. As much as I understand we’re not where we need to be as a club through the first 60 games. … I wholeheartedly know and believe in what we’re capable of as a team. That has not changed.”
He added his tone changes depending on the situation and conversations he has with certain players, but he remains confident the players will turn the season around.
“My job is to get these guys in the best possible situation when they take the field,’’ Boone said. “I’m unwavering in my belief in the room. I don’t believe that’s wishful thinking or being optimistic. I know how much they’re capable of. I know how much this weighs on them. We’ve got to weather this adversity.”