Twins starter Paddack tagged early in 5-1 series-opening loss to Yankees

Twins starter Chris Paddack wasn’t at his sharpest and the defense behind him was far from its crispest.

And that was all the New York Yankees needed to fuel their offense. With the Twins limited by New York southpaw Carlos Rodón, it all resulted in a 5-1 series-opener loss Tuesday at Target Field.

Paddack, coming off of a performance in which he yielded just a run in 5 1/3 innings pitched, was victimized by some hard contact, some weak contact and his defense throughout the outing.

“We need to play a cleaner game. That was clearly not one of our best games defensively,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. The Twins misplayed some balls in the outfield and threw to the wrong bases. “ … We have to be sharper than that. Paddack, he battled out there. … There was a lot today; when you’re playing against a good club, you’ve got to do a better job of if you think you’re going to come out on top.”

After pitching around a first-inning fly ball that outfielder Willi Castro misjudged and then made an error to advance the runner, Paddack came back out and gave up three singles to lead off the second.

Though he did his part to minimize the damage by retiring the Yankees (28-15) fearsome duo of Juan Soto and Aaron Judge, two runs scored in that second inning, on a sacrifice fly and the fourth hit of the frame.

An inning later, Giancarlo Stanton lasered a Paddack changeup at 114 miles per hour into the Twins’ (24-17) bullpen. And in the fourth, on a night where things didn’t come easy for Paddack, the Yankees fully broke the game open.

With a pair of outs, Paddack walked Soto on six pitches, beginning a Yankees’ rally. A single by Judge followed, setting the stage for Alex Verdugo, who hit a ball to center that got past an outstretched leaping Castro. The ball bounced to the wall and Judge, who was on first, raced home ahead of the relay throw.

That inning marked the end of the night for Paddack, who gave up 12 hits and did not record a 1-2-3 inning in the outing.

“I could have done a better job eliminating some damage there in the fourth inning after the two-out walk to Soto,” Paddack said. “Even with the weak contact, I’m better than that. Tonight was all me. I love close games and I just let it get a little ahead of me tonight.”

It was in stark contrast to Rodón, who allowed a leadoff home run to designated hitter Ryan Jeffers in the first inning — Jeffers’ 10th of the year and first leadoff shot of his career — and then worked around a pair of baserunners in that inning; it was the Twins’ best chance of the night.

Rodón would settle in, eventually retiring 11 straight batters during the middle of his outing before departing in the sixth inning.

“We hit a bunch of balls hard, got very little out of it,” Baldelli said. “ … I think we smoked a few of them, got nothing. We did some things well. We did some other things not as well. We need to play better than that.”

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