Juan Soto drives in two, Nestor Cortes solid as Yankees defeat Twins, 9-2

Nestor Cortes was solid in his spring training debut, and Juan Soto drove in two more runs as the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins, 9-2, on Monday afternoon. 

Here are some key takeaways ...

- Cortes was on the mound for the first time this spring and got through the start well, but the first inning got hairy quick. Soto could not come up with a diving grab before Anthony Volpe booted a potential double-play ball, which was ruled a hit.

After a strikeout and a soft single, Cortes struck out the next two batters with the bases loaded to get out of the jam. In the third inning after a clean second, Cortes would get into some trouble, allowing an RBI double before another run scored on a hard-hit grounder that could have ended the inning but was not played cleanly.

Cortes, while solid was betrayed a bit by the defense behind him. He went 2.2 innings (48 pitches) allowing seven hits, two earned runs, and striking out four batters.

- DJ LeMahieu, the presumptive leadoff hitter on most days, led off in this one and finished 1-for-2. He also started at third base, where he's slated to play most of his games. He was solid at the hot corner but in the third, a potential inning-ending chopper was hit sharply at him and it ate him up, allowing a run to score from third base.

The chopper hit LeMahieu in the face area and the veteran infielder was on the ground for a few moments, but he did stay in the game.

- Soto was electric again on Monday. After striking out looking in his first at-bat on a questionable call, Soto came up with two runners on and narrowly missed a three-run homer. Instead, the right fielder hit a double off the top of the wall to score two and tie the game up 2-2 in the third.

His day was done after the hit. In two games, Soto is 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBI.

- Monday was Giancarlo Stanton's first spring training action. The noticeably slimmer DH hit a ball to the warning track in center in his first at-bat and lined out to left field. His final at-bat saw him get underneath a four-seam fastball and pop out to left field. He went 0-for-3.

Manager Aaron Boone told the YES broadcast during the game that he doesn't fear Stanton's power being diminished, and that his exit velocities so far this spring show that.

His first at-bat saw the ball fly off of Stanton's bat at 104.3 mph. The second out came off the bat at 89.8 mph albeit on a breaking ball that Stanton hit at the end of the bat. His final contact left the bat at 84.3 mph.

- Ben Rortvedt started and is fighting for a roster spot with Austin Wells. He went 2-for-2, both singles, at the plate.

On the defensive side, he allowed a stolen base but in the third inning, Rortvedt showed poise and a strong arm. A ball was bounced in front of him when a runner on second tried to advance to third, but Rortvedt gunned him down to end the inning.

- The Yankees took the lead for good in the fifth inning when Jace Avina, who took over for Soto and was acquired in the Jake Bauers trade to the Brewers, hit a ground-rule double to drive in a run. Gleyber Torres followed with a single to put New York up 4-2.

Avina would finish 2-for-2 with two doubles. Torres finished 1-for-3. Jorbit Vivas capped off the day with a three-run homer to put the Yankees up 9-2. Vivas was acquired alongside LHP Victor Gonzalez from the Dodgers in the Trey Sweeney deal this offseason. Vivas, 22, now has two home runs this spring.


Upcoming schedule

The Yankees will be on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

Clarke Schmidt is scheduled to make his first spring training start for the Yankees while Zack Littell is on the mound for the Rays.