Paddack, Castro struggle as Twins lose to Yankees in series opener

Willi Castro has been a spark plug for the Twins over the last few weeks, but he had the opposite effect Tuesday night against the New York Yankees.

Castro, playing center field, misplayed a routine fly ball from Juan Soto in the first inning, likely blinded by the sun before making a late break toward the ball. After the hit dropped, Castro bobbled the ball and nonchalantly tossed the ball toward the infield as Soto raced to second base.

Chris Paddack pitched around Castro's first-inning error, but Castro didn't have a strong jump on a line drive that sailed over his head for a two-run double with two outs in the fourth inning. The Twins were handed a 5-1 loss at Target Field, the first time they dropped a series opener in their last seven series.

Paddack yielded 12 hits, matching his career high in a start, and five runs in five innings. He left nine men on base.

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During the fourth inning, with the Twins trailing by two runs, Paddack was on the verge of his first 1-2-3 inning. Then he issued a six-pitch walk to Soto and Aaron Judge reached through an infield single, a slow roller to third base. Next up was Alex Verdugo, who smacked a line drive to center, the ball carrying over the glove of a leaping Castro to drive in two key insurance runs.

Paddack worked ahead in counts, throwing a first-pitch strike to 22 of his 29 batters, and hitters whiffed plenty against his fastball. He just couldn't take advantage of it.

He allowed three straight singles to begin the second inning. One run scored on a lineout to center for a sacrifice fly, and Anthony Volpe followed with an RBI hit to left field. Volpe wisely took second base when left fielder Austin Martin threw the ball toward third base, but Paddack stranded two runners in scoring position when he struck out Soto and Judge lined out.

The Twins have prided themselves on playing well in some of the hidden areas, particularly defense and baserunning, but they seemed a step behind with some of their defensive plays.

Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton hammered a changeup for a solo home run in the third inning, a low laser that left his bat at 114 mph and ended up in the Twins bullpen.

BOXSCORE: New York Yankees 5, Twins 1

The Twins offense scored fewer than two runs for the first time since April 6. Yankees starter Carlos Rodón, who surrendered a solo homer to Ryan Jeffers on his second pitch, retired 11 consecutive batters until Carlos Santana hit a leadoff single in the seventh inning.

Jeffers clubbed a 94-mph fastball into the left-field seats for the first leadoff homer of his career. Rodón audibly reacted as soon as Jeffers connected with the pitch, the 10th home run of the season for the Twins catcher. There are only six players this season who have more homers than Jeffers, and each of them has at least 19 more at-bats.

The Twins had two more hits in the first inning — singles from Carlos Correa and Manuel Margot — but Rodón ended a 26-pitch first inning by striking out Santana. The Twins had only two baserunners over their next five innings.

The Twins opened the seventh inning with back-to-back singles, but righthanded reliever Ian Hamilton escaped with a flyout and two strikeouts.