Back-to-back homers not enough; Yanks fall to TwinsBy
For only the sixth time in the Ron Gardenhire era, the Twins beat the Yankees in the Bronx. That does not include the playoffs but does date back to the old Yankee Stadium. The 7-3 loss was the Yankees’ second loss in the last three games.
It’s always yucky with the starter gives up a run(s) in the first inning of a home game, putting his team in a hole before they even come to the plate. Freddy Garcia looked to be on his way to having a smooth top of the first with two quick outs — one on an incorrectly called caught stealing — but the Twins strung together five straight two-out hits to plate a pair of runs. It was the first runs Minnesota scored in the first inning all season.
The lead didn’t last very long. Disgraced former Yankee Carl Pavano fell behind in the count 1-0 to both Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, and both guys hit a homerun on the second pitch of their at-bats to open the bottom half of the first. Jeter’s ball was an opposite field shot to right, Granderson’s was yanked down the line and into second deck. After four pitches, Pavano had surrendered the lead and tied the game. Three batters later, the Yankees took a 3-2 lead when Mark Teixeira singled in Alex Rodriguez, who reached on an infield single and moved to second on a throwing error.
Pavano Settles In
Things looked great early on, but Pavano quickly settled down and retired 17 of the final 21 batters he faced. The four exceptions were a legit single by A-Rod, a walk by Robinson Cano, and infield singles by Teixeira and Jeter. Pavano did exactly what a veteran soft-tosser has to do, and that’s expand the zone. Home plate ump Gerry Davis was calling a 24-inch plate by the time the seventh inning rolled around, and the Yankees played right into it. They were swinging at soft stuff outside and chirping when pitches off the plate were called strikes. That’s good way to get the umpire on the other team’s side.
Pavano needed 23 pitches to navigate that three-run first inning, but he threw just 15, 10, 12, 9, 17, and 10 pitches in the next six innings. The Yankees really didn’t make him work, and in fact only three of the 21 hitters he faced after the first inning hit the ball out of the infield. It was pretty gross, the Yankees didn’t much of an answer. I hear the Twins are going to rub it in by starting Jaret Wright on Tuesday.
Freddy Settles In … Then Loses It
Like Pavano, Freddy settled in a bit after that adventurous first inning. He retired the next eleven men in a row, but the wheels started to come off in the fifth. Alexi Casilla doubled to the wall with one out, then came around to score on Jamey Carroll’s single two batters later. Joe Mauer drove in Carroll with a double. Two batters later, Justin Morneau hit a solo homer into the Yankees’ bullpen to lead off the sixth. Following that stretch of eleven in a row retired, Freddy allowed hits to four of the final eight hitters he faced, including three extra-base hits.
Garcia was unable to do what Pavano did, and that’s expand the zone with soft stuff. He didn’t have the wild pitch issues that sabotaged him in Baltimore last week, but Freddy left a few too many pitches over the middle of the plate and paid for it. No walks and five strikeouts is good, but nine hits against one of baseball’s worst offenses is not. With Michael Pineda and Andy Pettitte on their way, it would behoove Garcia to get himself back in gear and soon.
It’s unfortunate the Yankees couldn’t rally and make a game of it, because Granderson’s inning-ending catch of Morneau’s fly ball in the seventh will be forgotten. The Twinkies had a man on second and the ball looked destined for a date with the left-center field wall, but Curtis — who was shaded towards right with the lefty batting — managed to run the pitch down right in front of the Minnesota bullpen. T’was a gem.
Jeter (homer and a single), Granderson (homer and a single), A-Rod (two singles), and Teixeira (two singles) all had multiple base knocks. Cano drew the walk and Raul Ibanez chipped in a single, rounding out the night in offense. The 6-9 hitters went a combined 1-for-16 with four strikeouts.
The Yankees’ bullpen has been really good this season, so they were due for a stinker. Boone Logan got two outs, but not before walking two batters and hitting another. Cory Wade allowed four hits and two runs in his 1.2 innings of work while Clay Rapada managed a scoreless frame despite facing a righty or two. The B-relievers B-relievered it up, basically.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Game two of this four-game set will be played Tuesday night, when CC Sabathia gives it a go against fellow southpaw Francisco Liriano. RAB Tickets can help get you in the door if you want to catch the game in person.