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Yankees shut down Twins again to sweep series

The last time the Twins and Yankees met, the Twins clinched a season series against its longtime tormenter for the first time in 22 years, and did so by scoring six, six and six runs.

Yankee retribution arrived at Target Field this week, and as it was perhaps preordained a year ago, it felt biblical.

Ryan Jeffers hit the second Yankees pitch of this series into the left-field seats Tuesday, but no other Twins player touched home plate over the next 26 innings, their longest drought since 1981. The Yankees completed their sweep Thursday with a 5-0 shutout in which no Twin even reached third base.

Consider the enthusiasm generated by their 18-4 run of winning to be officially doused.

"We didn't play good baseball at all, and you've got to be able to take accountability in a lot of things we did wrong and fix them," Twins shortstop Carlos Correa said. "You can't forget the fact that we didn't play the brand of baseball that we've been playing as of late. Yeah, it's the same group, same guys. We'll keep on turning it around, like we've done in the past."

The past is exactly what this series felt like to Twins fans, who have watched their team win only three series from the Yankees in the 15 seasons since Target Field opened. Yet, this one was even a little worse: The Twins' lone run over three days was the fewest they have ever scored in a three-game series against the Yankees, a "rivalry" that dates back 64 years. Their previous worst was three runs, suffered in both 1980 and 1982, when pitchers like Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti and Tommy John were shutting them down.

This time, Clarke Schmidt finished off the Twins with eight shutout innings, giving up three hits, no walks and striking out eight, following the lead of Carlos Rodón and Marcus Stroman the past two nights in smothering batters. The Twins, who trailed after 26 of the series' 27 innings, managed only 14 hits in the three-game series, including only three Thursday.

"I didn't recognize much of what I was watching over the last three days," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Today was the day we did the least offensively. The first two days, we actually banged the ball a handful of times pretty good around the ballpark and got nothing to show for it. Today, I can't say that. Today, we got beat."

Aaron Judge was in the middle of it, as usual. The 2022 AL MVP doubled twice on Thursday, padding his American League lead in that category with 15. He piled up five doubles and a home run in three games here, going 7-for-11 in the middle of the Yankees' potent lineup.

"It's not easy to take your eyes off him. Physically, he's different and his at-bats right now, they're at a high level," Baldelli said. "We've seen him like this before."

That's an understatement. Judge has batted .377 in 18 career games at Target Field, with a 1.157 OPS.

BOXSCORE: Yankees 5, Twins 0

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Thursday's finale, played before an energetic announced crowd of 31,569, the Twins' biggest home crowd since Opening Day, felt all but decided in the first inning. Anthony Volpe led off the game by pulling a 2-2 fastball from Twins starter Joe Ryan just beyond the left-field fence. Ryan walked Judge, then gave up a single to Alex Verdugo.

Gleyber Torres followed by hitting a fly ball to the left-field wall that glanced off Alex Kirilloff's glove as he reached awkwardly for it, a run-scoring play that was ruled a double. Verdugo scored on Anthony Rizzo's ground out to first base, and the Twins were in a three-run hole that they had little chance of escaping.