- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Just imagine how great a season the New York Yankees would be having if they played in the AL Central?
They completed a rare four-game sweep -- their first sweep of any kind in precisely a month -- against the Minnesota Twins with a 9-5 victory Thursday at Target Field.
The Yankees are now 7-0 against the Twins this season and 14-3 against the three AL Central teams they have played so far. And they still get three whacks later in the season at the Chicago White Sox, the second-worst team in the AL.
The Yankees' 46-39 record would put them right in the thick of the divisional race with their nemeses, the Detroit Tigers.
Alas, the Yankees toil in the the reality of the AL East, where even riding the crest of their first four-game winning streak since June 6 -- the day after they completed a three-game sweep of the Indians at home -- they remain in third place, six games behind the Boston Red Sox. But, it is at least a positive trend as they head head home, after starting this road trip by getting swept by the Orioles to cap their third five-game losing streak of the season.
What it means: That the Yankees can head home on a high note, seeking revenge against the same Orioles, who come to Yankee Stadium for three games beginning Friday night.
Kyle is not Bob: Gibson, that is. Twins starter Kyle Gibson allowed three runs and four hits in his first 16 pitches, including a a two-run single by Vernon Wells, who had been hitting .186 versus righties. Interestingly, the only Yankee that Gibson retired out of the first five he faced was the red-hot Robinson Cano, whose sacrifice fly drove in the first run of the inning. It was Cano's 11th RBI of this road trip.
Vernon is burnin': Wells added to his two-run single with an RBI double in the third, the third time this season he has driven in three runs in a game. Wells had four hits in six at-bats in the two games he played here.
Cruzin': When Luis Cruz had his first hit as a Yankee, an RBI single in the third inning, it was also his first hit since June 9, when he singled as an L.A. Dodger against the Atlanta Braves. Three innings later, Cruz added to his burgeoning Yankees legend with a double over the head of left fielder Oswaldo Arcia.
Ichiro rollin': Ichiro Suzuki had a big day, doubling in his first at-bat, beating out an infield single in the second and tripling into the right-center field gap in the sixth to drive in the Yankees' seventh and eighth runs of the game.
Cooling Cano: Amazingly, on a day the Yankees had 13 hits, Cano didn't have any. He went 0-for-4 with a sac fly, ending his hitting streak at six games, but still finished the seven-game road trip batting .500 (14-for-28) with 11 RBIs.
Justin Time: Justin Morneau belted two solo home runs, one off David Phelps in the fourth inning and one -- a blast off the facing of the second deck in right -- off Boone Logan in the eighth, Nos. 5 and 6 on the season for Morneau.
Let's see Jeter do that: Actually, we already have. Chris Parmelee's chase of Cruz's seventh-inning foul pop down the right-field line, which culminated with a somersault over the low concrete wall and a dive into the stands, was a helluva play, reminiscent of Jeter's 2004 dive -- minus the bloody chin. And it was probably more effort than this blowout deserved. And just to prove he's OK, Parmelee singled to lead off the next inning.
Late fade: The Yankees led 9-1 after after 6½ innings, but Phelps, who pitched well for the first six, faltered in the seventh, surrendering three hits and a run before giving way to Joba Chamberlain, who surrendered an RBI single to the only hitter he faced. Boone Logan then followed and allowed a run on a sac fly by Joe Mauer.
By the time Logan gave up the long home run to Morneau -- a lefty who is 8-for-16 with two HRs off lefty-specialist Logan -- in the eighth inning, it was looking as if the Yankees might have to use Mariano Rivera for the fourth time in this series. But Shawn Kelley bailed everyone out with two strikeouts and a groundout to hold the line at 9-5.
What's next: A flight home followed by the opener of a three-game weekend series against the Orioles. Pitching matchups: Ivan Nova (2-2, 4.63) vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (6-3, 3.77) on Friday night; Andy Pettitte (5-6, 4.40) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (10-2, 3.68) Saturday afternoon and Phil Hughes (4-7, 4.55) vs. RHP Jason Hammel (7-5, 5.19) on Sunday.