The Yankees had base runners in all of the first three innings off of Vasquez, but could not push a run across. Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak with a lead off single in the first. But was still there after Ichiro Suzuki fouled out and Alex Rodriguez struck out. Robinson Cano, the DH in this game, singled to right-center and Jeter went to third. But with two outs, Nick Swisher went the route of Ichiro and fouled out to the third baseman to end the inning.
Vasquez worked around a two-out walk to Raul Ibanez in the second but Nix popped out to end that inning. In the third, Vasquez allowed a one-out single to Ichiro only to strike out A-Rod again on a 3-2 pitch. Ichiro ran on the play and was gunned out by Joe Mauer to complete the double-play.
Meanwhile, Phil Hughes was coasting along. He worked around a two out single in the first and a lead off single in the second and retired the order in the third. His pitch count was low and he was plowing through the batting order without too much effort. The Yankees would get him some runs in the top of the fourth.
Cano led off the fourth with a single and then Nick Swisher golfed an inside pitch down the line for a two-run homer. Curtis Granderson struck out but Russell Marin singled. For the second straight inning, the Yankees ran into a double-play as Ibanez struck out and Martin was thrown out trying to steal second. But the Yankees had a 2-0 lead.
Phil Hughes could not provide a shut down inning in the bottom of the fourth. Joe Mauer singled to open the frame. Hughes struck out Justin Morneau and got Ryan Doumit to pop out. Chris Parmelee came up with two outs and hit a little serve to left that bounced near the line. Raul Ibanez had a long run to get to the ball and once he got there, could not pick the ball up cleanly and Mauer scored all the way from first. No error was given on the play, but the poorly played ball did cost the Yankees a run.
The score stayed, 2-1, over the next two innings. Hughes retired the side in both innings and Vasquez gave up one lone single in the sixth and hit a hundred pitches by the end of the inning. He was relieved by Casey Fien in the seventh. Fien has had a good year for the Twins after two poor seasons for the Tigers. In 31 outings covering 32+ innings, he had not allowed a homer all season. That changed when Russell Martin hit the first pitch of this outing into the bullpen in left for his 19th homer of the season. Fien settled down after that and retired the next three batters.
Phil Hughes had thrown just 76 pitches through the first six innings and looked in control of this game. The first batter he faced was Ryan Doumit and he left a curve high in the zone and Doumit hit it for a single to start up the inning. The next batter was Parmelee who had one of those epic plate appearances and hung in there for ten pitches and worked a walk to put men on first and second with no outs. Hughes then got Trever Plouffe to fly out for the first out. But Jamey Carroll got an infield single to load the bases. Hughes got a huge out by striking out Pedro Florimon and was within an out of working out of the jam. He wouldn’t get the chance. Joe Girardi came out of the dugout and summoned Boone Logan to pitch to the left-handed batting Denard Span.
After the fact, there was a lot of debate on Twitter on who should be the Yankees’ first lefty out of the pen. Without second-guessing, Logan has allowed 20 percent of inherited runs to score before this game and Clay Repada has only allowed 13 percent of those inherited runners to score. Girardi’s choice was Logan and it is hard to fault him. Logan’s number one job is to get left-handed batters out. It did not happen this time. The first thing Logan did was to throw a wild pitch that allowed the second Twins’ run to score. And then, after going to a 3-2 count on Span, Martin called for a slider on the outside and down. Logan threw it down and in, right in a left-handed hitter’s happy zone. Span crushed it to the gap between Granderson and Ichiro and all of Hughes’ runners scored. If you read lips, Phil Hughes was seen after the double saying, “G– D___ it.” Yup.
But Logan went one up on allowing all of Hughes’ runners to score. He also allowed Joe Mauer to hit a single to drive in Span to make it a 5-3 game. That run hurt the most as we shall see.
The Yankees went quietly in the eighth and after Derek Lowe pitched a great inning in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees quickly got to two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the Twins’ closer, Glen Perkins. With Raul Ibanez due up, Andruw Jones pinch hit and delivered a solo homer to left to bring the game to, 5-4. The next batter was Jayson Nix. Girardi would pinch hit for him, right? After all, Nix was only 4 for his last 28. Nope. Nix was allowed to hit and struck out on a slider down and in that everyone knew was coming except Nix. The Yankees had lost.
With the Orioles losing to the Blue Jays earlier in the evening, the Yankees had a chance to go up by three in the loss column with eight games to play. Instead, the lead in the loss column remains two. Defeat was snatched from the hands of victory.
Notes: Both A-Rod and Curtis Granderson went without a hit in four at bats and both struck out twice. A-Rod did have one hard hit ball into the gap, but Denard Span, the hero of this game for the Twins, ran it down nicely for a good play. Ichiro has cooled off and is two for his last nine and got thrown out stealing. Nix went 0-4. Only Robinson Cano had a great night at the plate as he went three for three with a walk in his other plate appearance. Nick Swisher did hit that two-run homer but stranded four base runners in his other three at bats including a strikeout.