All things considered, Liam Hendriks did not pitch that bad of a game for the Twins until the seventh inning. His manager, Ron Gardenhire, probably exposed Hendriks for one inning too many. After six innings, he had allowed four runs on six hits with four strikeouts and only one walk. Three of the runs were allowed in the top of the first. In that inning, Hendriks allowed a walk to Derek Jeter to start the game. Ichiro Suzuki hit a ball off the wall in right for a double and Jeter went to third. Jeter then scored on a Robinson Cano ground out. The big blow, however, was when Nick Swisher hit a booming homer to right-center that banged off the facing up the upper deck out there.
Hendriks later served up Curtis Granderson‘s fortieth homer of the season–a solo job–in the fourth that was hit even deeper than Swisher’s bomb. Granderson’s back-to-back forty-homer seasons are the first time that has happened for the Yankees since Jason Giambi did it in 2002 and 2003.
Again, if Gardenhire had taken Hendriks out after the sixth inning, he could have felt like he pitched a decent game. But that did not happen and the Yankees would hit two more big flies off of him in the seventh. The first was by Raul Ibanez, who never hits cheap homers. His homer was hammered and though it was down the line, it was way, way down the line. Eric Chavez followed that up with one of his patented opposite field homers just out of the reach of Josh Willingham who made a leaping attempt at the ball. That would do it for Yankee scoring for the night.
Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte fought through a couple of tough innings. In the first, after being staked to a 3-0 lead, Pettitte gave up a lead off single to Denard Span. Ben Revere then hit a little dribbler that went about forty feet for an infield hit. Pettitte got Joe Mauer to fly out to Ibanez in left but walked Willingham to load the bases. Pettitte then got tough and made three beautiful pitches to Justin Morneau to strike him out looking. Morneau was not happy with two of the strike calls, but Brooks Baseball showed them both to be strikes. Pettitte got out of the jam by inducing Ryan Doumit to ground into a fielder’s choice.
After a 1-2-3 second, the Twins in the third wrapped two singles around an out to give Willingham a chance to drive them in. But Willingham rapped into a double play to end that inning.
With two outs in the fourth, Doumit hit a booming double to center and that was followed by a single by Jamey Carroll to center. Granderson charged the ball and threw a perfect strike to Russell Martin at home who made a quick tag to Doumit’s shoulder to get him out. Doumit and Gardenhire argued, but the replay showed the umpire got the play correctly. Andy had escaped again.
All told, Pettitte threw 88 pitches. 53 of them were strikes and by the middle innings was able to throw strikes with his entire repertoire of pitches. He gave up seven hits and one walk and struck out three. The win was the 245th of Pettitte’s great career.
Minnesota relievers shut down the Yankees the rest of the way, but the same can’t be said for the Yankees’ expanded bullpen. Joba Chamberlain pitched a perfect seventh, but Cory Wade coughed up another homer as Pedro Florimon hit his first career jack to right as the first batter Wade faced. Wade would get successive outs after that homer though and Justin Thomas came in and got the last out of the inning.
In the ninth, Thomas retired the first out on a great play by Robinson Cano, his second great play of the game. But Thomas gave up a single and a walk right after that and Girardi brought in David Robertson to end the silliness. Robertson did not quite get the job done. He gave up a booming double to a pinch-hitting Chris Parmalee that scored both of Thomas base runners before retiring the last two batters to ice the game.
Notes: Derek Jeter had a good night as he was flawless in the field and had two walks and a single to extend his hitting streak to eighteen games. Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez, two veterans who had been struggling greatly win recent weeks, delivered with great games. Chavez had three hits in four trips to the plate including the homer. Raul Ibanez went two for four with his homer. Russell Martin and Robinson Cano had tough nights at the plate, both going 0-4. But both made up for their lack of offense with tremendous games in the field.