Nice win for the Yankees in the Bronx last night as they came back to beat the Twins 8-4. Including last year's ALDS, the win was the Yankees 11th in a row over the Twins, and one of many of the comeback variety.
It was a battle for Yankees' starter A.J. Burnett, who clearly didn't have his best stuff tonight. He struggled with command, walking four and throwing only 51 of his 100 pitches for strikes, but found a way to put together a decent start. In six and two-thirds innings, the right-hander allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits, walked four, and struck out four.
Minnesota got on the board in the second, when Burnett walked Nick Punto with bases loaded to force in a run. Prior to the walk, Alex Rodriguez committed a throwing error on a bunt by Alexi Casilla, which allowed the Twins to load the bases.... He'd make up for it later in the game.
Twins starter Scott Baker retired nine of the first ten batters he faced until the Yankees were able to put two on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Brett Gardner hit a long home run into the right field bleacher to tie it at one. Later in the inning, Robinson Cano hit a ground-rule double, scoring Mark Teixeira, and giving the Yanks a 2-1 lead.
In the next inning, Joe Mauer hit his second homer of the season to tie the game at two.
The Yankees came right back with a mini two-out rally in the bottom half of the inning. Gardner singled, and that was followed by a Teixeira double, scoring Gardner and making it 3-2 Yankees. That's how the score would stay until the seventh.
With a man on second, two out, and left-handed hitting Joe Mauer coming to the plate, Joe Girardi decided Burnett's night was over and replaced him with the struggling Damaso Marte. Burnett was at 100 pitches and battled the whole way, so the move did make sense, but again, like most of the calls to Marte this season, this one didn't work out. Mauer singled to tie the game at three, and on the play also was allowed to reach second when Gardner tried to throw out Denard Span at home plate. With Span's speed the attempt was pointless and the most important thing was keeping that runner out of scoring position. Justin Morneau was now batting and with the way Marte has been throwing Girardi could have walked him. Probably the right move to make, but he decided to let Marte go after him and he made Girardi pay by doubling in Mauer to give the Twins a 4-3 lead.
But this see-saw battle in the Bronx wasn't over yet. Francisco Cervelli, who had another nice game, hit a grounder towards the middle. Orlando Hudson showed some nice range to field the ball, but his throw was late and Cervelli was on with an infield single. Derek Jeter then hit a line drive off Baker's knee and into the shallow left field for what turned into a double to put runners on second and third. Baker would then leave the game and lefty reliever Brian Duensing came in to face Gardner. After getting the speeder to fly out to left, Ron Gardenhire decided he wanted to walk Teixeira to load the bases and setup the doubleplay for A-Rod. Surprisingly, he decided to bring in right-hander Matt Guerrier, and guy A-Rod was 4-for-6 with 3 HR and 4 RBI against coming into the at-bat, and those numbers were about to get even better.
Guerrier started A-Rod off with a 90 mph fastball on the inner half that A-Rod hit on the ground just foul of third base. He went back to the well on the next pitch, throwing a 91 mph fastball. This one got a little too much of the plate and Alex mashed it, sending it deep to left and into the seats for a grand slam home run. .... Was that the loudest the stadium has gotten so far this year? It sounded that way on TV..... The Yankees now led 7-4 and the Yankees had Joba and Mo waiting in the pen.
Joba Chamberlain's velocity tonight might not have been as high as it was in Detroit--averaged 94.79 and topped out at 96.1--but the results were just as good as he struck out the side in order.
The Yanks added one more run in the bottom half of the inning. Juan Miranda doubled with one out, and Francisco Cervelli drove him in with a triple. Cervelli is now a ridiculous 10-for-13 with runners in scoring position this year. With Nick Swisher still suffering from his strained biceps, the Yankees should probably consider a lineup with Cervelli behind the plate and Jorge Posada at DH until Swish is 100%. Not only does it keep Cervelli's hot bat in the lineup, but it will allow Posada to rest a bit which is always good for a 38-year-old catcher.
In the ninth, Mariano Rivera needed just 11 pitches (9 strikes) to set the Twins down in order and finish up the Yankees 23rd win of the season.
It was a great night for the Yankees 3-4 hitters, who combined to go 4-for-6 with 5 RBI and 3 runs scored. Tex was on base all night and A-Rod showed the power that's been missing over the first six weeks of the season. Hopefully, this is a sign they're both starting to swing the bats well, which would obviously be great news for the Yankees and us fans, and really bad news for the rest of the American League.
The Yankees look to make it 12 in a row over the Twins when they send Andy Pettitte to the mound tomorrow afternoon. Another lefty, Francisco Liriano, will get the ball for the Twins. First pitch is 1:05 p.m. and the game will be on YES.