Yankees complete four-game sweep of Twins with 9-5 victory
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Vernon Wells drove in three runs, and the New York Yankees pounded rookie Kyle Gibson and the Minnesota Twins 9-5 on Thursday to finish a four-game sweep.
Travis Hafner had three hits and scored twice, and Ichiro Suzuki had a two-run triple among his three hits for the Yankees, who scored 29 runs in the series.
The Yankees didn’t even need their usual super-sized contribution from Robinson Cano, whose streak of six straight multihit games ended without reaching base. He still batted .500 on this seven-game road trip with 11 RBIs.
Justin Morneau homered twice for the Twins, one-third of his season total. But Gibson (1-1) gave up 11 hits, a walk, a hit by pitch and eight runs in 5 1-3 innings with two strikeouts in his second start.
David Phelps (6-5) surrendered Morneau’s first homer and three more runs in the seventh, when he left with one out. RBI singles by Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier and a sacrifice fly by Joe Mauer helped the Twins catch up in that inning, and Morneau went deep again in the eighth.
Phelps gave up eight hits and four runs, but he struck out five without a walk.
Zoilo Almonte and Alberto Gonzalez also drove in runs for the Yankees.
Phelps had a decent June until his final start of the month, when Baltimore beat him up for a season-most nine runs in 2 1-3 innings last Saturday. Swept by the Orioles in that series, the banged-up Yankees brought a five-game losing streak to Target Field, where their woes were quickly forgotten against their longtime punching bag.
Since the start of 2002, including the postseason, the Yankees are 71-23 against Minnesota.
Gibson’s debut last weekend matched the anticipation of the 2009 first-round draft pick built up in the fan base, a winning performance with six sharp innings and two runs allowed. This time, he was behind 3-0 after just his 17th pitch.
The first five batters produced two singles, two doubles and a soaring sacrifice fly by Cano that Oswaldo Arcia caught at the wall in left field. The next batter, Wells, hit a two-run single.
The game, though, was essentially decided in the third inning.
Gibson hit Hafner with a pitch and let him move up on a wild pitch. Then Wells sneaked a low-arc pop-up in the space between Arcia and the infield, just right for Hafner to score, Arcia to miss a sliding catch by a few inches and Wells to get a double. Luis Cruz followed with an RBI single, his first hit for the Yankees, to stretch the lead to 5-0.
Then in the bottom of the inning, the Twins found more bad breaks indicative of a slumping team.
After consecutive singles to start for the Twins, Brian Dozier’s bunt rolled perfectly down the third-base line where no play was possible. But it strayed a bit too far, across the chalk, and Dozier was summoned back to the box.
Then he grounded into a double play, thanks to a slick running pickup and same-motion, sidearm toss by the shortstop Cruz to Cano at second base to start the process. Mauer struck out looking next on a pitch the catcher believed was low, in disagreement with home plate umpire Ed Hickox.
Mauer was called out on strikes in his next at-bat, too, and he had more words for Hickox on his way back to the dugout.
With Josh Willingham out until August, the Twins are even thinner in the middle of their order. So manager Ron Gardenhire stuck Arcia, an emerging candidate for the Rookie of the Year award, in the third spot and moved Mauer back in the No. 2 slot.
“Put him in there and let him hack,” Gardenhire said.
The Twins have lost 10 of their last 13 games.
NOTES: Noted Yankees birthdays on July 4: late owner George Steinbrenner and radio announcer John Sterling. ... Arcia popped out to shortstop in the first inning, breaking his bat so badly that the barrel flew toward first base and landed upright in the grass by the cut-out with the jagged edge working like a tent stake. ... The Yankees have moved SS Eduardo Nunez up to Double-A Trenton in his rehab assignment. Manager Joe Girardi said Nunez’s return to the team is possible before the All-Star break. ... The Yankees start a 10-game homestand on Friday, beginning with Baltimore. RHP Ivan Nova (2-2, 4.63 ERA), in place of Hiroki Kuroda, will take the mound. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (6-3, 3.77 ERA) will pitch for the Orioles. ... The Twins begin a 10-game road trip on Friday, continuing their grind through the AL East. RHP Kevin Correia (6-5, 4.08 ERA) will start in Toronto, with LHP Mark Buehrle (4-5, 4.81 ERA) taking the mound for the Blue Jays.