In the final game of their 2011 home-opening series the Yankees needed something to wash away the taste of the rainout and the disappointing loss of the last two days. And they did just that by beating the Twins, 4-3, behind good pitching and timely hitting.
Facing Francisco Liriano is a tough task more often than not, and it took until the third inning before the Yankees started piecing a rally together. Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the third with a walk and stole second on a 3-0 count. He moved to third on a groundout by Derek Jeter, then Nick Swisher drove him in with a sacrifice fly to deep right-center. And the Yankees took a 1-0 lead without a single hit.
The Twins jumped ahead 2-1 in the next half-inning with a trio of doubles, but Liriano walked Alex Rodriguez to open the bottom of the inning. After Robinson Cano singled, Andruw Jones came up with the biggest hit of the game, driving in the tying run with a one-out double into the left field corner. Jones’ double drove in A-Rod and set up the Yankees with men at second and third with just one out.
The Yanks went back on top when Russell Martin’s grounder to first scored Cano. Two batters after Jones’ double tied the game, Gardner hit a blooper with two outs into shallow right, which drove in the eventual game-winning run.
AJ Burnett pitched another encouraging game, lasting six innings, allowing two runs, walking two and striking out five. He showed good command all game, particularly with his changeup.
Burnett left with the Yankees leading, 4-2, and the team received an inning each from Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano, and Mariano Rivera. Chamberlain surrendered an unearned run; Soriano allowed a leadoff single by Mauer before retiring the Twins’ 4-5-6 hitters; and Rivera worked a perfect ninth for the save. The Jo-So-Mo connection strikes again.
The Yankees were involved in a scary situation in the seventh, when Swisher slid hard (but clean) into second attempting to break up a double play. Swisher was out on the fielder’s choice, but Tsuyoshi Nishioka had to be carried off the field after Swisher slid to break up the throw. Nishioka was unfortunately diagnosed with a fractured left fibula.
2,931: Derek Jeter went 2-for-3 to collect hit number 2,931, passing Rogers Hornsby for 33rd place on baseball’s all-time hit list.
0: The old-fashioned, small-ball Yankees needed zero homers to win the game.
The Yankees travel to Boston to face the winless Red Sox. First pitch at 2:05 PM on YES.
Phil Hughes (0-1, 11.25 ERA) vs. John Lackey (0-1, 22.09 ERA)