What it means: That try as they might, the Yankees and Orioles can't seem to quit one another. Presented with a golden opportunity to open up their biggest lead in the AL East since Sept. 1 -- the Orioles lost to the Blue Jays, 4-2 -- the Yankees, or more accurately a combination of Joe Girardi and Boone Logan, blew a 3-1 seventh-inning lead and a fine performance by Phil Hughes to lose to the Twins, 5-4. As a result, their lead over the Orioles remains a slim 1-1/2 games with eight more to play.
Binder blowup: Hughes had pitched six strong innings but ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing the Twins to load the bases on two singles and a walk with one out. But he got a clutch strikeout over Pedro Florimon for the second out and had handled the Twins' next hitter, Denard Span, easily all night. Still, Girardi, in one of those late-game lefty-lefty matchups he loves so much, opted to pull Hughes for Logan. The result? A wild pitch on the first pitch, scoring a run, and a two-run double by Span on the 3-2 pitch that coughed up the lead and put the Twins ahead, 4-3.
From bad to worse: After Logan walked Ben Revere following Span's double, Girardi left him in to face the lefty-hitting Joe Mauer. The result? RBI single to right and a 5-3 Twins lead. At times, Girardi seems to manage reflexively, especially when it comes to relief pitching matchups. This was one of those times.
Nicked up: The Yankees got on the board in the fourth inning on Nick Swisher's 24th HR of the season, a two-run shot into the flowerpots high above the right-field fence with Robinson Cano aboard. It was the third straight game in which Swisher has homered, and he now has 89 RBIs; his career high is 95, accomplished in 2006 with the Oakland A's.
High point: Russell Martin greeted Twins reliever Casey Fien by crushing his first pitch into the bullpen beyond the center field fence for his 19th HR of the season, matching his career high. Incredibly, Martin -- who by just about every yardstick has had a poor offensive season -- now has more home runs than Alex Rodriguez. In 30 fewer at-bats!
Look out, DiMag: Derek Jeter's single leading off the game extended his hitting streak to 19 games, which means he should catch up to Joe D. sometime in early May 2013.
Bustin' out: Cano came into the game in a 3-25 slump but had singles in his first three at-bats tonight.
Off the milk carton: And onto the highlight reel, the rarely-seen Andruw Jones homered with two out in the ninth to cut the Twins' margin to 5-4.
Oh, my aching back: Raul Ibanez looked every minute of his 40 years trying to pick up Parmelee's bloop double into the left-field corner in the fourth inning. Ibanez's delay in straightening up allowed Mauer (single) to score from first, cutting the Yankees' lead to 2-1.
Two hitters, four outs: The Yankees twice struck out into double plays tonight, the first time in the third inning when A-Rod, who had been ahead in the count 2-0 and 3-1, swung through a full-count fastball from Esmerling Vasquez with Ichiro Suzuki stealing. Ichiro was thrown out to end the inning. Then, in the fourth, it was Ibanez's turn to fan on a changeup with Martin going. He, too, was cut down by Twins C Mauer to end the inning.
What's next: Early start for the series finale, tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. N.Y. time, which means 12:10 here in Minny. CC Sabathia (13-6, 3.47), coming off one of his best starts of the season (8IP, 3H, 0R, 11K), faces RHP Samuel Deduno (6-5, 4.54).