NEW YORK — Didi Gregorius took away one of Derek Jeter’s titles.
Jeter always will be remembered for leading the Yankees to five World Series championships. In his third season as Jeter’s replacement, Sir Didi surpassed his predecessor for the most home runs by a Yankees shortstop in a season.
Gregorius sent a three-run drive into the second deck in right field, Aaron Judge hit his AL-leading 45th home run and topped 100 RBIs, and New York beat the Minnesota Twins 11-3 Wednesday for a three-game sweep.
“He’s just getting better and better, maturing as a player, defensively, everything,” Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said. “You’ve got to consider him one of the best shortstops in the league.”
The Yankees, who have won 10 of 12, remained three games behind AL East-leading Boston, which blanked Baltimore 9-0. They opened a seven-game advantage over the Twins for the top AL wild card with 10 games remaining.
Gregorius has 25 homers, one more than Jeter’s total in 1999, and 84 RBIs. A knight in the Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau, the 27-year-old had never reached double digits in home runs before hitting 20 last year.
“For me, most important is winning,” Gregorius said. “That’s what we play for. As long as we’re winning, I’m happy.”
He’s thrived in a situation where comparisons with Jeter were constant.
“That’s obviously something that’s always going to be … in the back of your head,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said. “I think last year just really turned the corner offensively, and it didn’t seem to matter if he was facing righties or lefties.”
The game was halted for 4 minutes in the fifth inning when a young girl was injured by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier . The Yankees said the girl was taken to a hospital for treatment, and New York manager Joe Girardi said he had been told by team security that she was OK.
Minnesota started the day 1 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the league’s last playoff berth. The Twins have lost five of six and were outscored 18-6 in the three-game series.
“I’ve had better trips to New York,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We’ve talked a lot this last three days about handling the bigger stage and try to do the whole `Hoosier’ thing. The game’s the same, it just feels a little different and hopefully it helps these guys in the long run.”
Judge hit his eighth home run of September, a two-run drive that began the comeback from a 3-0 deficit. He added a sacrifice fly for his 101st RBI, joining Joe DiMaggio, Tony Lazzeri and Hideki Matsui as the only Yankees rookies to reach the century mark.
Judge’s opposite-field drive down the right-field line off Bartolo Colon was the first homer run in his big league career on 0-2 pitch. Gary Sanchez followed with a shot into Monument Park, his 32nd, to go back-to-back with Judge for the second time in the homestand.
“These guys always put me in a good position,” Judge said. “There’s always runners on base for me.”
Greg Bird’s RBI double in a six-run fourth chased Colon (4-6 in the AL and 6-14 overall), and Gardner and Sanchez followed with run-scoring singles against Tyler Duffey for a 6-3 lead.
Minnesota built its lead in a 46-pitch third inning against Luis Severino. Joe Mauer had an RBI single that capped a 13-pitch at-bat , the longest of his big league career, and Jorge Polanco hit a two-run single.
Colon, 44, signed his first big league contract in 1993, about eight months before Severino was born. Colon gave up six runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings, raising his overall ERA to 6.63.
Chasen Shreve (4-1) pitched three hitless innings in relief of Severino, who allowed three runs and five hits in three innings, just his second poor start since the All-Star break.
“He was a little off today,” Girardi said.
Judge also struck out for the 199th time this season and walked for the 116th. DiMaggio had 125 RBIs as a rookie in 1936, Lazzeri 114 in 1926 and Matsui 106 in 2003 after leaving the Yomiuri Giants to sign with the Yankees.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled, doubled and tripled. He hit a fly to right-center in his last at-bat.
The Yankees posed in their new thumbs-down T-shirts , nine days after a Mets fan responded with the gesture following Frazier’s home run against Tampa Bay at Citi Field.
Minnesota has 26 sacrifices, tied for second in the AL behind the Chicago White Sox (32). The Twins had a pair of singles in loading the bases during CC Sabathia’s first four pitches Tuesday night.
“If you’ve got a better chance to get a hit by bunting that you do of swinging the bat, I think that they’re times to still to that,” manager Paul Molitor said. The bunt had been part of the game forever. It’s a proven commodity.”
Yankees: OF Aaron Hicks (oblique strain) will start batting practice Thursday in Tampa, Florida, and is to play in a game Monday at New York’s minor league complex. … RHP Adam Warren (back spasm) was to throw a bullpen session Wednesday and advance to a simulated game by Sunday or early next week.
Twins: LHP Adalberto Mejia (4-6) is to open a four-game series at Detroit on Thursday.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (12-11) is to start Friday’s series opener of a three-game series at Toronto, New York’s final road games.