MINNEAPOLIS — Devon White won seven Gold Gloves playing center field in the big leagues and gave Aaron Hicks some tips on playing in the middle of the outfield.
In talking to Hicks, White said a good outfielder never has to dive to make a catch because they get the best jumps.
Well, White would have disagreed with his own words Tuesday night had he saw the catch Hicks made to end a pulsating 14-12 Yankees win over the Twins that took 10 innings and 5 hours and 3 minutes to complete in front of a Target Field gathering of 32,470.
Hicks’ two-run homer in the ninth tied the score, but snaring Max Kepler’s 10th-inning bases-loaded fly ball toward the warning track in left-center by laying out and holding onto the ball after face-planting on the warning-track cinders was bigger in the scope of things.
“That was a do-or-die play that needed to be made to end the game,’’ Hicks said.
Had Hicks not made the catch, at least two runs would have scored to tie the score and possibly three to win it if the ball took a funny bounce off the wall.
“What an amazing end to an amazing game,’’ a drained Aaron Boone said of a contest in which his team led 2-0 in the first inning, trailed, 8-2, after four and 9-5 after five.
A five-run eighth that was highlighted by Didi Gregorius’ two-run double put the Yankees ahead, but Zack Britton gave up a two-run homer to Miguel Sano to give the Twins an 11-10 lead. A wild Chapman gave up a run without a hit in the ninth to tie the score, 11-11. Down to their last strike in the ninth, Mike Tauchman worked a walk against Taylor Rogers and scored ahead of Hicks’ homer.
Gleyber Torres delivered a run with a single in the 10th and the Yankees scored another via a wild pitch.
That left Adam Ottavino with a two-run cushion to close out the Twins. He was replaced by Chad Green with the bases loaded and two outs after issuing three walks.
Green turned to watch Kepler’s drive and had a feeling Hicks had enough legs to catch it.
“I thought he had a good jump and the ball stayed up long enough for him to make the catch,’’ Green said.
Hicks wasn’t the only Yankees hero, just the last. Gregorius went 5-for-5 with a three-run homer in the fifth and drove in seven runs.
Gregorius worked on hitting the ball to left-center during batting practice and a two-run double in the first went that way, as did a one-out single in the 10th.
“There is something about our team that we never give up,’’ Gregorius said of the 65-35 Yankees, who hold a 10-game lead over the Rays and Red Sox in the AL East.
In a game where there were 26 runs, 35 hits, a combined four blown saves and the winning pitcher (Chapman) walked three of the six batters he faced, not everything was pretty.
Gary Sanchez, who went 0-for-5 to extend his slump to 10-for-85, left the game in the eighth when he suffered a left groin injury running to first base. Yankees starter Doming German was shelled for eight runs and nine hits in 3 ²/₃ innings. Chapman and Ottavino combined to walk six.
Yet, the marathon set off a wild clubhouse celebration in which the hooting, hollering and the whistles could be heard through the cement walls.
“I like them when we win them,’’ Boone said of the ups and downs that came and went. “They are challenging, no doubt.’’