Morneau Hits 2 Homers As Twins Edge Yankees

GAME 12

TWINS 6, YANKEES 5

Justin Morneau hit a pair of solo home runs – his second and third of the series – and Minnesota pounded Hiroki Kuroda for six earned runs to hold off New York on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

Jason Marquis (1-0), making his first American League start, gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks and struck out three in five innings but still was able to hold on to win. Matt Capps surrendered Derek Jeter’s fourth home run of the season in the ninth but got credit for his third save.

Kuroda (1-2), coming off eight innings of shutout baseball against the Angels on Friday, gave up 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. He was tagged for four runs in the first inning and the Yankee offense was never able to overtake the Twins the rest of the way.

The loss evens the Yankees’ season record to 6-6. The Twins, who won only two games coming into the four-game series, have now won two games in the Bronx and are 4-8.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Jeter was 3-for-5 in the game and he hit the ball hard in the two at-bats he was retired. He is hitting .389 with four home runs and 10 RBIs on the season. OK, Yankee fans who were calling for Eduardo Nunez to replace Jeter at shortstop, what do you have to say now? Hmm, those fans are suddenly silent.
  • Robinson Cano was 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season and drove in two runs, showing signs he is coming around with the bat after a brief cold spell. Cano’s two RBIs from the cleanup spot were the first two RBIs from a No. 4 hitter for the Yankees this season. The Yankees were the only team in baseball without an RBI from their cleanup hitter.
  • Nick Swisher smacked a two-run single in the first inning to give him 13 RBIs on the season, which leads the American League. Swisher is in the final year of his contract with the Yankees and he is trying to make a push to remain with the Yankees for the rest of his career.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • After shutting down the Albert Pujols and the Angels on five hits in eight innings, Kuroda reverted back to the form in which he gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Rays on April 7. By the time Kuroda gave up a two-run home run to Morneau, the fifth hitter in the lineup, he already had the Yankees down 4-0 before they got to bat. Very simply this inconsistent starting pitching is going to have to stop to give the Yankees any chance to win games.
  • The offense does bear some of the blame also. They were able to score three runs on Marquis in the first inning and then they went to sleep. Cano’s solo home run in the third and Jeter’s solo shot in the ninth was the extent of the offense after that. A pattern is developing where they score some runs early and, after the pitcher makes adjustments, they can’t kick-start the offense back up again.
  • The at-bat that turned the game happened in the bottom of the first. The Yankees had scored three runs and Marquis was on the ropes with the bases loaded and one out with Eric Chavez at the plate. Chavez hit the ball hard – real hard. Unfortunately for the Yankees and him, the one-hop smash was right at second baseman Alexi Casilla and it was turned into a double play. The Yankees have been plagued by their share of “at ‘em balls.”

BOMBER BANTER

In the “How worse can things get department?” the Yankees were forced into placing left-fielder Brett Gardner on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right elbow and a muscle strain. Gardner was injured making a diving catch in Tuesday’s game against the Twins. Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees will use a combination of Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones and Nunez in left to replace Gardner. The team is expected to fill Gardner’s roster spot with right-handed relief pitcher Cody Eppley, who was claimed off waivers from the Rangers on April 5 and has pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre this season.

ON DECK

The Yankees need a victory on Thursday to prevent the Twins from winning the four-game series.

To do that the Yankees will need a good start from right-hander Phil Hughes (0-2, 9.00 ERA). Hughes gave up six runs in just 3 1/3 innings in his last start on Saturday against the Angels. Hughes is fighting to remain in the rotation in the wake of the return of Andy Pettitte. He is 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA against the Twins in his career.

The Twins are countering with right-hander Anthony Swarzak (0-2, 3.75 ERA). Swarzak is replacing Nick Blackburn, who came up with a stiff right shoulder, in his first start at Yankee Stadium. He is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

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