The Twins were all over Kuroda in the first inning. Denard Span started things with a single. Jamey Carroll doubled to left to score Span. Joe Mauer then hit an opposite field double to left that became a ground rule double and Carroll scored. After a Josh Willingham ground out, Justin Morneau then hit a bomb to right center that bounced off the back of the to plate Mauer and himself and four runs had scored. Chris Parmelee singled and it seemed the inning would never end, but Kuroda managed to escape further damage.
The Yankees did not take long to welcome Jason Marquis to the American League in the bottom of the first. Derek Jeter started things off with a single. Curtis Granderson walked. Mark Teixeira just missed his first homer of the season as he flew out to deep center. Robinson Cano doubled to drive in Jeter. Nick Swisher singled to center to score Granderson and Cano. Raul Ibanez then singled to send Swisher to third. Andruw Jones, pressed into service at game time to play left due to the sore right elbow of Brett Gardner, then had a terrific at bat where he saw eleven Marquis pitches before taking the walk to load the bases. After that at bat, it really seemed Marquis was just hanging on and one more hit would have tipped him over. That hit never came as Eric Chavez, spelling Alex Rodriguez at third for the game, pulled a perfect double play ball to second to end the threat. The three-run rally left the Yankees just one run short in tying the game.
It seemed that Kuroda would settle into a groove after his rough first inning. He worked efficiently around a lead off single in the second to retire the next three batters, but it simply wasn’t his night as the Twins put together three straight hits together to score another run in the third to make it a 5-3 game.
Robinson Cano connected on a sloppy slider from Marquis in the bottom of the third for his first home run of the season.
The Yankees were again a run behind. Kuroda then induced three straight ground balls in the top of the fourth for his only 1-2-3 inning. That gave the Yankees another chance in the bottom of the fourth and with one out, Eric Chavez singled and Marquis hit Russell Martin with a pitch. But Jeter hit his second straight line drive right at someone and Granderson struck out to end the threat.
Kuroda then ran into Justin Morneau again in the top of the fifth. After Willingham struck out, Morneau hit another bomb, his second of the night and this one was hit even farther than his first one. That was it for Kuroda and that was it for the Twins’ scoring. Clay Rapada, Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano shut the Twins out the rest of the way.
The Yankees would mount another small threat in the seventh off reliever, Brian Duensing. Singles by Jeter and Teixeira gave the Yankees first and second with one out. But Cano grounded into a force out and Swisher struck out and the rally fizzled.
The score stayed 6-4 until the bottom of the ninth as the Twins brought in Matt Capps to obtain the save. Capps has not exactly been Mr. Automatic in his two seasons with the Twins and tonight was no different. Alex Rodriguez pinch hit for Russell Martin and grounded out to third. but then Derek Jeter hit his fourth home run of the season to bring the Yankees a run closer with one out. Capps then struck out Curtis Granderson. The Yankees’ chances were down to Mark Teixeira and he almost tied the game. But his deep fly to right died at the warning track and that was the ballgame.
The Yankees are back at .500 with a 6-6 record and will need a win tomorrow against this same Twins club to finish with a series tie. The Twins improved their record to 4-8. The Orioles and Blue Jays both lost and four teams, including the Yankees are within a game of first. The Red Sox lost their third straight and are now 4-8 on the season, three games behind the leading Orioles.
Derek Jeter: The Capt’n went three for five and hit his fourth homer of the season. Both of his outs were line drives. He scored two runs and drove in his tenth run of the season. He is now batting .389.
Robinson Cano: I hesitate to put Cano here though he went two for four, drove in two runs and knocked in two. But he hit into a double play to kill one inning and hit into a force out in the seventh when the Yankees had something going.
The bullpen: Rapada, Logan and Soriano weren’t perfect. But they did not allow a run to score and gave the Yankees a chance.
Hiroki Kuroda: All the good feelings from his last start disappeared in a hurry. He now has two bad starts to go along with his great one.
Andruw Jones: Despite his professional at bat in the first inning, Jones went 0-3 the rest of the way and while playing left, appeared to loaf an Alexi Casilla single into a double.
The Yankees finish the homestand with another night game at the Stadium against these same Twins. Phil Hughes will try again to get some of the dark clouds over his head to dissipate and the Twins will counter with Anthony Swarzak.