Twins lose two close games to Yankees
MINNEAPOLIS — It doesn't matter where the Twins and Yankees meet, the Yankees seem to win close games, the Twins are trying to end losing streaks against them — and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is steamed over protocol.
The best night for baseball in Target Field's young life was also quite a night on the field as the Twins battled the Yankees but were edged twice — 1-0 in the completion of the suspended game from Tuesday and 3-2 in the regularly scheduled game.
The second game was a stunner, as the Twins tied the game in the seventh but Joe Mauer hit into a double play to end the eighth and Jon Rauch's elevated changeup in the ninth was launched by Nick Swisher well into the seats in right.
Nine of the last 13 games between these teams have been decided by two runs or less — seven of those nine were one-run games. The Yankees have won six straight games on Minnesota soil, including the postseason.
Perhaps the close losses are additional reasons why Gardenhire wasn't happy about the ninth inning, when Yankees lefthander Andy Pettitte went to the mound to start the inning — but only to buy time for closer Mariano Rivera to finish warming up.
"We didn't want to have Mo up unless we knew we were going to use him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Mo's a guy who's done it before. He didn't throw a ton of pitches in the first game, and we hadn't used him in a while. We felt he could do it, and I actually felt his stuff was better the second game than the first game. I won't make a habit of that."
After a few moments, Girardi went to the mound to make the pitching change, and home plate umpire Brian O'Nora had to turn toward the Twins dugout to address objections.
"He wasn't going to throw a pitch," Gardenhire said. "Kind of tired, to tell you the truth. Don't normally get that long between innings. You know what's going on there. That's a situation Major League Baseball needs to take care of when stuff like that happens. If you don't have a guy ready in the bullpen, if your starter goes out there he should have to face a hitter."
It was similar to the 2003 playoffs at the old Yankee Stadium, when Gardenhire objected to how long Ronan Tynan sang "God Bless America" in the middle of the seventh inning, making Brad Radke wait longer than normal to pitch the bottom of the inning. Radke hit the first batter he faced and the Twins ended up giving up three runs in a 4-1 loss, as Rivera got the final six outs of the game for the save.
Rivera got six outs Wednesday, too, three in the end of the suspended game and then three groundball outs to end the regular one — giving the Twins two losses on the day.
"To give up four runs in two games, that's pretty good," Gardenhire said. "You should win a ballgame. We didn't win one."
Mauer's RBI single in the first inning of the second game gave the Twins a 1-0 lead. Twins lefthander Francisco Liriano held the Yankees to two runs over seven innings.
New York tied the game in the fourth on Frank Russo's RBI double that scored Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli should have been erased on a double play but Orlando Hudson's throw to first was late and Russo followed with his double.
Brett Gardner's RBI triple in the sixth gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Delmon Young doubled in the eighth to drive in Michael Cuddyer with the tying run.
Rauch got the first two batters out in the ninth. But he left one over the plate to Swisher.
The Twins lost two games on Wednesday on home runs — one by Derek Jeter in the first game and Swisher's in the second.
Know how long it's been since the Twins have homered in a game? May 18 at Toronto.
"You get two quick outs and things are going pretty well," Rauch said. "Then I got beat on my fourth best pitch. It is not something I'm proud of, obviously. I thought I threw it with conviction and it was the right pitch to call."