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Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Yankees 7, Twins 3

By Wallace Matthews



MINNEAPOLIS -- For the New York Yankees, playing these Minnesota Twins has been like giving a dose of extra-strength painkiller and a can of Red Bull to a man with a blinding hangover.

Suddenly, the comatose have gotten up and walked. The team that had lost five straight games, scoring a total of 13 runs in the process, has now erupted for 17 in two nights off the inept Twins to embark on a modest two-game winning streak, something they had not been able to do since back-to-back wins over the Tampa Bay Rays on June 21 and 22.

And not only did the Yankees' bats come alive in a 7-3 win, but the Twins' bats have helped Phil Hughes recover his mojo just in time for the trade deadline. Hughes went seven innings Tuesday night, allowed only one run and six hits, and kept everyone in the ballpark. And on a night when they suffered another injury to a regular, albeit a replacement to a replacement, the Yankees found another fourth-stringer to step up and perform in his place. Even with Preston Claiborne allowing two ninth-inning runs, this one was a win all the way around.

What it means: That coming off a humiliating sweep by the Orioles over the weekend, the Yankees are halfway to a rejuvenating sweep of the Twins and have CC Sabathia, their nominal ace, going for them Wednesday night.

Still smokin': Robinson Cano, who was practicing his right-handed hitting stroke in the batting cage before the game, reverted to his natural left-handed stance for the real thing, to the chagrin of the Twins, who watched him pulverize an Anthony Swarzak offering deep into the right-field seats with a runner on board to give the Yankees a 7-1 lead in the seventh. It was Cano's fourth home run in the past three games and his 20th of the season, keeping him neck-and-neck with former Yankee Raul Ibanez, who hit his 20th earlier in the day for the Seattle Mariners. And with two more hits in four at-bats, Cano is now 12-for-21 (.571) on the road trip, which has two more games to run.

Go-go Gonzalez: Given a rare opportunity to start at shortstop with Jayson Nix laid low with a hamstring injury, Alberto Gonzalez made the most of it, doubling in two runs in the fifth inning, singling in another in the Yankees' four-run seventh, and scoring twice. Can you say Jayson Pipp?

Beauti-Phil: Hughes got himself into deep trouble in the fourth inning when he walked the leadoff hitter, Trevor Plouffe, and surrendered a double to Oswaldo Arcia, giving the Twins second and third with none out. He then proceeded to climb out of it by catching Chris Parmelee and Aaron Hicks looking at third strikes and ended the inning by inducing a ground out by Pedro Florimon. One of Hughes' best innings of the season.

One for 39 snaps 0-for-32: A fifth-inning single by David Adams (No. 39 in your program) snapped a hitless streak of 32 at-bats for the Yankees' third basemen, and was followed by a double by Gonzalez, which scored Adams and Lyle Overbay, who led off the inning with a single to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

Speed kills: The Yankees added a third run in the fifth when Ichiro Suzuki topped one down the first-base line and burned up the basepath, causing Deduno to rush and bobble the ball, resulting in an infield hit and allowing Gonzalez to score from third. Deduno, who had retired the first 10 Yankees he faced, nine on ground outs and one by strikeout, was visibly angered at himself after the play, but it was Ichiro's pressure that caused it.

Ominous note: Before the game, the large Japanese media contingent, its job to notice such things, noticed Hiroki Kuroda was not in the clubhouse. When they asked Yankees manager Joe Girardi about it, he answered cryptically that he would discuss it after the game. Rumors are flying around about a leg injury and the possibility that Ivan Nova could make Kuroda's scheduled start Friday night against the Orioles at home. Stay tuned for more news after the game.

Off his rocker: Before the game, the Twins presented Mariano Rivera with the most novel gift he has received yet on his farewell tour -- a rocking chair made with the shattered handles and barrels of bats that had the misfortune to collide with Mo's cutter. The chair was said to have been designed by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

What's next: Game 3 of this four-game set, Sabathia (8-6, 4.15), coming off a bad loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, faces RHP P.J. Walters (2-4, 6.03). First pitch is 8:10 p.m.