After a two-game sweep in Kansas City, the Yankees continued their Midwest tour with another two-game set against the Twins. Minnesota sat in the middle of the rather weak AL Central, at 14 games under, but proved to be a worthy opponent on this night against the Bombers. Andy Pettitte got the ball for New York, as the Yanks searched for their fourth straight win.
August 19: Yankees 3, Twins 5 (box score)
Record: 92-31, .748 (up 18.5)
Pettitte would face off with Mike Morgan for the Twins, a member of the recent Yankees All-Immaculate Grid team. Pettitte’s last two starts had been decent-but-shaky ones, as he allowed seven earned runs and 15 hits in 12.2 innings over the two outings. Unfortunately for the lefty, things wouldn’t get any easier on this night in the Metrodome.
After a quiet first inning on both sides, the Yankees struck first in the top of the second. After Morgan walked three straight Yanks to start the frame, Tim Raines grounded into a run-scoring double play. Not ideal, but it put New York up 1-0 early.
The Twins would quickly strike back, however, in the bottom half. Alex Ochoa and David Ortiz walked to start things off, and subsequently executed the ol’ double steal. Of note, this was the first stolen base of David Ortiz’s career (1st of 17 in his 20-year career). Denny Hocking later followed it with an RBI-groundout, while Pat Meares singled to score their second run and put them up 2-1.
Joe Girardi led off the Yankees’ third with a double, and Chuck Knoblauch followed with a single. With a prime opportunity in front of them, however, the heart of the Yankee order then went down 1-2-3 and squandered the opportunity. Meanwhile, the Twins continued their work and went up 3-1 as Marty Cordova scored on a sac fly in the third.
The Yankees were able to load the bases with one out in the fourth, but only turned it into one run via a Girardi sac fly. It cut their deficit to just one, but the bats went mostly quiet afterwards. Despite Jeter leading off by reaching on an error, they made little noise in the fifth, and were set down in order in the sixth.
Pettitte continued to labor through the Minnesota lineup in the fifth. Two of the first three batters reached, and Ochoa scored one on a groundout. While David Ortiz continued his early thorn-in-the-side status against the Yanks as he roped a double into right-center that scored another. After five innings, the Twins were now up 5-2.
Both Pettitte and Dan Serafini out of the Minnesota ‘pen worked 1-2-3 frames in the sixth, and a couple more scoreless ones in the seventh. In the top of the eighth, the Yankees began their path back. Chili Davis and Tim Raines led things off with a single and double, respectively, and after a Scott Brosius popup, Jorge Posada came in to pinch-hit for Girardi. He would do his job in the chipping-away process with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Davis and bringing the score to 5-3.
Pettitte came back out and worked a spotless eighth inning, but the Yankees were unable to make any noise in the top of the ninth, which secured the 5-2 victory for the Twins. Pettitte threw all eight innings that were available to him, throwing 124 pitches, while allowing five runs on nine hits and three walks. It was a gutty performance, but not one that could get the Yankees a win. He was not the only one at fault, of course. The Yankees 2-through-5 in the lineup of Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, and Tino Martinez went a combined 0-for-16 in this one, as the Bombers could only muster two runs against the five pitchers Minnesota used.
It was a small hiccup for the team that was coming off of a near-perfect homestand and a nice start to their road trip. They would look to even the slate in the second and final game of their series in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.