MINNESOTA — The year is 2023, and Sonny Gray and Joey Gallo are still hurting the Yankees.
The difference now is that the two are wearing Twins uniforms instead of pinstripes. Gray and Gallo flopped during their respective stints in the Bronx, but they exacted some revenge on Monday at Target Field in a 6-1 win for Minnesota.
Gray continued his hot start to the season, dealing for seven innings. The right-hander limited the Yankees to three hits, and he struck out eight while walking two over 107 pitches. He also lowered his ERA to a microscopic 0.62.
“Spinning it,” Aaron Boone said when asked what made Gray so difficult. “It’s what he does so well. He mixed in enough of his sinker to keep us honest. But whether it was cutter, breaking ball, slider, he was on top of it. But we gotta be able make that adjustment.
“Sonny’s throwing the ball great. He’s off to a great start.”
Gallo, meanwhile, hit his sixth home run in his 13th game for the Twins after signing with them over the offseason. The fourth-inning solo shot off Greg Weissert was a no-doubter.
“He’s obviously got a ton of power,” Boone said of Gallo before the game. “He’s already hit some home runs this year. He’s a guy that typically controls the strike zone. So I don’t think it’s surprising to us necessarily that he’s having some success here.”
Gallo nor Gray experienced much success in New York.
Gallo spent 140 games with the Yankees from 2021-22 after they acquired him in a trade with the Rangers. But his all-or-nothing approach never found the relative balance that made him a two-time All-Star in Texas, as the outfielder/first baseman slashed .159/.291/.368 with 25 homers, 46 RBI, 77 walks and 194 strikeouts.
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Yankees fans booed Gallo often last season, and the team dealt him to the Dodgers for pitching prospect Clayton Beeter in August.
Gray, meanwhile, joined the Yankees in a July 2017 trade with the Athletics. A frontline starter in Oakland, he recorded a 4.51 ERA over 195.2 innings with the Yanks. Gray was demoted to the bullpen toward the end of 2018, and the Yankees flipped him to the Reds that winter.
Cincinnati traded Gray to the Twins in March 2022.
“You pitch against a former team, it always has a little bit of a bigger meaning,” Gray said after Monday’s win. “You always feel a little bit different going against those teams. But having said that, we need to focus on us.”
Gallo didn’t appear by his locker before or after the game when the Twins’ clubhouse was open to reporters.
While the two ex-Yankees grabbed headlines, the Bombers’ struggling offense is also commanding attention. The lineup has scored less than four runs in nine of the last 11 games. The Yankees have crossed the plate just six times since putting up nine runs on April 20.
“We’re the Yankees,” Boone said, “and we gotta find a way to do a little better than that.”