Be honest, Yankee fans: how many of you were scared that the Yankees scored too many runs last night, and wouldn't have enough to take down the Twins tonight with Phil Hughes on the mound? Well the joke is on all of us, because Hughes - aided by the most unusual suspects imaginable on offense - brushed aside the Twins once again, 7-3.
First time through the order, the Yankees offense apparently didn't get the memo that they were playing baseball and not extreme croquet - all nine hitters grounded out in the first three innings against Twins starter Samuel Deduno, and only two of those grounders were hit even remotely hard.
The Twins opened up scoring in the bottom of the third. Center fielder Aaron Hicks - batting well below .200 and fresh off the DL - started off the inning by smoking a double to right. That ball would have landed 25 rows deep into the Yankee Stadium bleachers, so after Hughes got the next two hitters to pop out he must have been feeling pretty good about himself. Up to the plate stepped Joe Mauer, and the Twins broadcast crew posted the following graphic:
Mauer on the current home stand:
Hughes never stood a chance - base hit, 1-0, Twins. Hughes would give up another single before a hard line out to center ended the frame.
The Twins threatened to take a commanding lead in the bottom of the fourth. Trevor Plouffe worked a walk to start the inning and Oswaldo Arcia smoked a double on a 3-0 count, leaving runners and at second and third with no outs. Just when it seemed as if 2013 Hughes was about to let the game get out of hand, first-half-of-2010 Hughes suddenly rode in on a blazing steed to shut down the Twins - strike out, strike out, ground out - and keep the game within reach.
And then...bedlam. The top of the fifth inning was pretty much the baseball equivalent of this "Kevin James Falling Down in His Movies" super-cut - the kind of madcap slap-dashery that gets the job done even as it kills your brain cells. Lyle Overbay got things started by scalding a ground ball all of seven feet for a base hit. Following a Chris Stewart line out, the Yankees were forced to rely on the offensive stylings of David Adams (.178 average heading into tonight) and Alberto Gonzalez (.143 BA). And just like that, the Yankees
were out of the inning took a 2-1 lead. Adams lined a solid single up the middle and Gonzalez drove him and Overbay home with a double down the right field line. I saw it, and I still don't believe it. After a Brett Gardner ground out moved Gonzalez over to third with two outs, Ichiro dribbled a ball down the first base line. The pitcher Deduno tried to field the ball, tag Ichiro and throw to first all at once, leaving the ball resting snugly on the foul line as he rocketed past the runner. Ichiro was credited with a hit, and the Yankees had a 3-1 lead.
The middle of the Yankees order went down quietly the next time through, handing the burden once again to D.A. and the Attorney General (a new TNT crime drama, perhaps?). Once again, they came through with the big hits; this time it was Adams with a double down the right field line and Gonzo with a single to score him. Three batters later, Robinson Cano, undoubtedly fearful of these young upstarts stealing his thunder, blasted a three-run homer to give the Yankees a 7-1 lead.
Hughes gutted his way through seven innings, giving up six hits and two walks, striking out three. It was nice enough outing, but not terribly impressive in this park against this offense. Wait a second, are any opposing GM's reading this article? What I meant to say was, "Phil Hughes pitched like a young ace in the making! Better trade for him before the Yankees lock him up to a big fat contract!"
Lord Preston Claiborne, 17th Earl of Fizzlewyck, pitched a scoreless eighth before running into trouble in the ninth, surrendering two runs on a two-out double off the bat of Brian Dozier. Adam Warren was brought in and promptly walked Joe Mauer, presumably so Mariano Rivera could pick up a nice two-pitch vulture save and earn that sweet broken-bat chair.
Zoilo Almonte didn't figure into the scoring, but he still hit a double because awesome doesn't take a day off.
Mom Quote of the Night: we were watching the Twins feed when Hughes walked the lead off hitter in the fourth, leading to the following exchange:
- Twins announcer and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven: "That's Hughes' first walk of the game, and it's the lead off hitter...don't those guys usually come around to score?"
- Mom: "Who is this asshole?!?"
CC Sabathia will go tomorrow for the Yankees, who will have two chances to clinch their first series win since June 9 against Seattle. I wish they could marry the Twins.