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Monday, July 1, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Yankees 10, Twins 4

By Wallace Matthews

MINNEAPOLIS -- The New York Yankees' long, dark night is finally over. After losing five straight to the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers, the Yankees have found a patsy of their very own, the Minnesota Twins, whom they beat 10-4 in the opener of a four-game series at Target Field.

But it wasn't easy (the Yankees were locked into a life-and-death struggle for seven innings). And it wasn't pretty (their three-run eighth inning was sparked by a two-base throwing error, a bunt single and a ground out). Four ninth-inning runs, on RBI singles by Travis Hafner and Zoilo Almonte, a bases-loaded walk to Chris Stewart and a passed ball completed the scoring. But a win is a win, and after suffering through an 11-16 June, the Yankees are now 1-0 in July.

What it means: That the Twins are so bad, by the time we leave Minneapolis the Yankees could be seven games over .500 again.

Offensive explosion: The 10 runs the Yankees scored Monday night was their highest total since May 10, when they scored 11 against the Kansas City Royals. Yes, they won that night, too.

Meltdown: Andy Pettitte had his worst first inning in recent memory, allowing the first three hitters to reach base (walk, double, two-RBI single), getting a huge break when first-base ump Cory Blaser called Justin Morneau out when he was safe by a step, and then slipping to the grass on a squib to the left of the mound but still firing, wildly, over Lyle Overbay's head for an error. Pettitte was visibly frustrated throughout the inning, which required 42 pitches to navigate.

Ford eclipse: With his fifth-inning strikeout of Justin Morneau, Pettitte topped Whitey Ford on the all-time Yankees K list (1,958). Pettitte did it in his 15th season and 2,697th inning as a Yankee. It took Hall of Famer Ford 16 seasons and 3,170 innings to get 1,957.

Gopher it: After settling down to throw four scoreless innings, Pettitte left a 2-2 slider where Chris Parmelee likes it, and it turned into a solo home run leading off the sixth that gave the Twins back the lead, 4-3. That ended Pettitte's night -- five-plus innings, six hits, four walks, four earned runs -- and insured that he would not get the win for his fourth straight start. Pettitte last won on June 8 and had lost three in a row coming in.

One-man show: Rhymes with Robbie Cano, who single-handedly kept the Yankees in the game for the first seven innings with a pair of home runs, a solo blast to deep center in the first, and a two-run shot into the left-field seats in the third. Cano now has 19 home runs and 51 RBIs, and it was his 13th multihomer game, most ever by any Yankees 2B, passing Hall of Famer Joe Gordon. Cano also led off the eighth with a double into the gap in right.

Cleanup bunter: Yankees manager Joe Girardi sent Ichiro Suzuki up to hit for Vernon Wells, his cleanup hitter who has not hit a home run in more than six weeks (May 15), and in the fashion of Yankees cleanup hitters these days, Ichiro laid down a perfect bunt that became a base hit when pitcher Jared Burton couldn't get a handle on it and threw it away, moving Cano to third.

Comedy of errors: The Twins made a shambles of the eighth inning, Burton throwing the ball away trying to keep Ichiro close at first, allowing Cano to score the tying run and moving Ichiro to third. Cano came around to score the go-ahead run on Almonte's single through a drawn-in infield. The Yankees added a sixth run on Stewart's ground out following a walk and a wild pitch.

K-Rob: David Robertson, who had not worked since June 25, allowed a one-out double to Parmelee but struck out the side to lock down the eighth.

Who's that No. 42? Mariano Rivera, who like Robertson also had sat for a solid week, got the chance to pitch the ninth inning with a six-run lead. When's the last time that happened?

What's next: Game 2 of this four-game set on Tuesday, Phil Hughes (3-7, 4.82) vs. RHP Samuel Deduno (4-2, 3.32), first pitch at 8:10 p.m.