TWINS 6, YANKEES 1
TAMPA – When Robinson Cano returned from the World Baseball Classic to the Yankees’ clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field he must have looked around and said to himself “Who are these guys?” Cano and “those guys” then proceeded on Thursday to lose to a team of nobodies on the Twins.
Drew Butera hit a bases-clearing double as part of a five-run fourth inning and Liam Hendriks gave up one unearned run in four innings of one-hit baseball as Minnesota embarrassed New York in front of a paid crowd of 10,698.
Phelps (2-3), who is vying to be the fifth starter this spring, could not locate any of his pitches and he was hammered for six hits, he walked three and he struck out six in 3 2/3 innings until he was mercifully removed from the game by manager Joe Girardi.
Hendriks (2-1) gave up the Yankees’ lone run in the fourth inning when Cano picked up the team’s first hit with a single. After Kevin Youkilis walked, left-fielder Joe Benson misplayed Travis Hafner’s opposite field fly ball to allow Cano to score.
With the loss the Yankees are now 10-16 in Grapefruit League play. The Twins, minus Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, improved to 12-12.
- Cano returned to the lineup and was 1-for-2 with a run scored. He better get used to being the team’s lone contributor this season because that was the only hit the Yankees picked up in the entire game.
- Mariano Rivera gave up a leadoff single in the fifth inning and then he got serious and struck out Benson, Butera and Pedro Florimon in succession to end the inning. It may be comforting for Yankee fans to Rivera in the closer’s role for one last season. It is hard to see how he will have many games to save the way the team is playing now.
- One would guess that in only getting one hit that the players are now well rested and ready to get a few more hits on Friday.
- In his first four starts, Phelps was sailing along with a 2.37 ERA. In his last two starts, he has given up nine runs on 13 hits and four walks in 8 2/3 innings. His battle to unseat Ivan Nova as the No. 5 starter appears to be in great jeopardy at the moment.
- Players always say when they don’t hit a certain pitcher that you have to “tip your cap to them.” Well, the Yankees have been tipping their cap to a lot of ordinary pitchers this spring. Hendriks was 1-8 with a 5.59 ERA in 16 starts with the Twins last season. Cole De Vries and Pedro Hernandez no-hit them over the final five innings. The sad thing is the Yankees were playing what will be most of their Opening Day lineup if Derek Jeter starts the season on the disabled list.
- In addition to his shoddy pitching, Phelps did not help himself with a pair of poor pickoff throws. He was charged with just one error because the other error was charged to Cano. But Phelps allowed the Twins to force him into making a lot of mistakes and he paid for them.
General manager Brian Cashman said Thursday that Jeter will not play in any more spring training games to allow the team to be able to backdate him to the earliest date should he be placed on the disabled list to start the season. Jeter will play in minor-league games so the team could have him available for an April 6 game against the Detroit Tigers. Jeter is recovering from surgery to repair a fractured left ankle and he suffered a setback this week which required him to receive cortisone injection to alleviate soreness in the ankle. The Yankees are still hopeful Jeter will be able to play on Opening Day.
The Yankees will a complete a home-and-home short series against the Twins with a road visit to Fort Myers, FL, on Friday.
Nova, who is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA his four spring starts, will pitch for the Yankees. He will be opposed by the world famous Vance Worley, who figures to be the Twins’ Opening Day starter. If Worley no-hits the Yankees it will be time for Yankee fans to panic.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. and the game will not be broadcast. That could spare the Yankees a lot of public embarrassment.
Say your prayers little one
Don’t forget my son
To include everyone
I tuck you in, warm within
Keep you free from sin
‘Til the sandman he comes
Sleep with one eye open
Gripping your pillow tight
Take my hand
We’re off to never-never land
“Enter Sandman” – Metallica
YANKEES 6, TWINS 4
He entered the game to the strains of Metallica’s classic rock anthem on Monday afternoon with 601 saves. Three consecutive outs later he possessed the undisputed crown of the greatest closer in major-league baseball history and an all-time record of 602 saves.
Mariano Rivera, at age 41 and still getting hitters out with essentially just one pitch, was congratulated by his Yankee teammates and pushed back onto the mound to take in a rousing standing ovation for his historic achievement from the noticeably smaller crowd than the 40,045 who paid to see the game at Yankee Stadium.
Rivera’s historic save passing Trevor Hoffman’s previous standard of 601 capped a one-game makeup game with Minnesota in which New York took an early 5-0 lead and relied on its vaunted bullpen and its premiere closer to claim a victory.
“For the first time in my career, I am on the mound alone.”
– Mariano Rivera
The Yankees started the sunny afternoon in the Bronx by clouding the mind of Twins rookie starter Scott Diamond.
Curtis Granderson started it off by following a Derek Jeter leadoff single with his 41st home run of the season, which landed in the bleachers over the right-centerfield auxiliary scoreboard. It was Granderson’s 16th home run of the season off a left-hander, which leads the major leagues.
The Yankees added a run in the second on a one-out single to left by Russell Martin that scored Nick Swisher.
They added a pair of runs in the third on a one-out walk to Alex Rodriguez, an RBI triple to center by Robinson Cano and an RBI single to center by Swisher.
Diamond shone more like cubic zirconium. He gave up five runs on 10 hits and three walks and he struck out just one in his four innings of work.
However, the Twins began to creep back into the game against veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Burnett breezed nicdely through the first three innings, having shut out the Twins on three hits and seven strikeouts. But, as what has often happened to Burnett over the past two seasons, the wheels started falling the wagon in the fourth inning.
Chris Parmalee led off the fourth with a homer to right-center. Burnett then gave up singles to Danny Valencia and Brian Dinkelman, retired the next two batters and then walked Twins No. 9 hitter Rene Rivera, who entered the game with a .146 batting average.
Burnett escaped further damage by fanning Ben Revere swinging on a 3-2 pitch.
But Burnett immediately found himself in more hot water in the fifth. Trevor Plouffe led off with a single and Michael Cuddyer followed with a two-run home run to right-center. After Burnett allowed Parmalee to double to center, manager Joe Girardi pulled his mercurial headache of a starter.
The Twins were able to tack on a another run when reliever Cory Wade walked Valencia and Dinkelman singled sharply to right to load the bases. Luke Hughes followed with a slow infield roller that Jeter fielded and retired Hughes as Parmalee scored to bring the Twins to within a run down at 5-4 before Wade escaped further damage by striking out Joe Benson and Rivera.
Bunrett was charged with all four runs on nine hits and one walk and he fanned nine batters in 4-plus innings of work.
The Yankees tacked on an insurance run in the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Rodriguez off reliever Kyle Waldrop that scored Granderson with his major-league-leading 133rd run of the season.
The Yankees’ bullpen quartet of Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Rivera pitched a perfect 3 1/3 innings of relief to close out the Twins.
Of course, the occasion was lent a bit of historic flair when Rivera entered the game in the ninth needing just three outs to earn his 43rd save of the season in 48 chances and to stamp himself as the greatest closer of all time by setting the career saves mark.
Rivera did it just as he has done for the past 16 seasons as the Yankees’ closer: with a minimum of pitches and with cool efficiency.
Rivera induced Plouffe into a routine groundout to Cano at second. He then got Cuddyer to hit a routine fly to right that defensive replacement Chris Dickerson cradled in his glove for the second out.
He then put Parmalee into an 0-2 hole and the rookie lefty-swinging slugger watched helplessly as Rivera’s 13th offering of the inning cut crisply over the outside corner and home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck threw back his right arm and punched out Parmalee.
And Rivera stood proudly to bask in the glory of one the greatest achievements of his storied and surely Hall-of-Fame career.
With the victory the Yankees have improved the season record to 92-60. They are five games ahead of the stumbling Boston Red Sox in the American League East and they have reduced their magic number to clinch the division to five games with only 10 left to play.
- Look out, Granderson is hot again. In his last two games, he is 4-for-7 with two home runs, a double, a single, three walks, five runs scored and four RBIs. Granderson had been mired in a prolonged slump at the plate this month. He was 9-for-51 (.176) with just one home run and four RBIs until he went 3-for-3 with a home run against the Blue Jays on Saturday.
- Cano’s RBI triple in the third inning was his seventh triple of the season, which ties a career high. Cano has 16 RBIs in the 18 games he played in this month and now has easily set a career high in RBIs with 119. His previous high was 109 runs driven in during his breakout 2010 season.
- Jeter was 3-for-4 with two singles and a double and scored a run. Jeter has failed to get a hit in only one game in which he played in September. He is hitting an even .300 for the month. The three-hit game raised his batting average to .296 and if he hits .300 for the season, it will be the 12th season he has reached that mark. He has failed to hit .300 or better in only four seasons. In those seasons he hit .291 (1997), .297 (2002), .292 (2004) and .270 (2010).
- Burnett is quickly wearing on the nerves of Girardi with his “Good A.J., Bad A.J.” act. Burnett was not pleased when Girardi pulled him from the game in the fifth inning with a man on and no outs and the Yankees clinging to a 5-3 lead. Girardi said it was obvious that Burnett did not have the same stuff he had in the first three innings and he defended his decision . Burmett has only two victories in his last 14 starts.
The transmission of this report was delayed.