A couple of singles, a walk, an error and a double from Danny Valencia put the Twins up 4-0 in the first inning. I won't even talk about how positive of a spin that put on the start of the game, because it quickly became an echo of the Wednesday night game. Anthony Swarzak gave up a pair of home runs that combined for three runs; one to Curtis Granderson, who had three on the night, and one to Mark Teixeira.
But this was a dark echo of last night's game. Instead of the Minnesota pitcher settling in after a tough first frame it was the New York hurler. Phil Hughes was far from perfect, but he hung a couple zeroes and gave his offense some breathing room.
Granderson's second inning homer broke a 4-4 tie, giving the Yankees a two-run lead. His homer in the fourth (yes, he hit his bombs in three consecutive plate appearances) made it three.
Minnesota didn't go easily tonight, at least not right away. Ryan Doumit homered after Justin Morneau walked in the sixth, drawing the Twins to within a run. They'd go on to waste opportunities in the seventh (first and second, one out) and eighth (Danny Valencia's ground-rule double led off the inning), before Mariano Rivera went through Jamey Carroll, Joe Mauer, and Josh Willingham like they were the 7-8-9 hitters.
It's an unfortunate end to the series because, once again, the Twins had a lead. Twisting the knife is the fact that they had ample opportunities to get their lead back (or even just tie the game), but were unable to.
Big picture: the Twins took two of four from the Yankees in New York. As over-matched as Minnesota is on paper, that's a big accomplishment and it's certainly more than what other, more talented, Twins squads have done in recent years. On top of that, the mentality of this team seemed different. Whether it's the new guys, or the lack of pressure, or a few guys just getting over a mental hurdle or two, this team had many opportunities to fold this week. And they didn't.
Notes, studs and duds after the jump.
- Danny Valencia and Chris Parmelee each smashed a pair of doubles. Valencia's went to left/left-center, while Parmelee's went into the right field corner. Neither player scored tonight.
- With runners on first and second and one out in the seventh, Morneau fouled a hard one off the inside of his right foot. He was so close on a couple of Rafael Soriano's pitches, just missing on a couple. In the end he couldn't hold up on a high fastball and became the inning's second out.
- After Valencia's leadoff ground-rule double in the eighth, David Robertson showed why he's one of the game's most dangerous relief pitchers. Parmelee looked severely over-matched, striking out on three pitches. Sean Burroughs, pinch hitting for Alexi Casilla, produced a weak dribbler to the right side that at least advanced Valencia. Denard Span got on top of a cutter, grounding out weakly to end the last threat the team had.
- Jamey Carroll wasn't able to come through at the plate tonight (-.151 WPA), but made an incredible diving catch over his shoulder as he ran straight back into left field. He made another play on a grounder to his right, making a strong throw across his body.
- Swarzak just didn't have it tonight. His pitches looked hittable, and Yankee hitters agreed. They hit the ball hard, and scored 6 runs in 2.2 innings.
- Jeff Gray gave the Twins 2.1 innings out of the pen, surrendering just one run.
- Alex Burnett picked up two big double plays, helping him hang two goose eggs.
- Glen Perkins looked good after missing a couple of days.