|▲ Robinson Cano after hitting a home run in the third. Leading off the eighth inning, he doubled and then scored the game-tying run on an error. By DAVID WALDSTEIN Published: July 2, 2013|
MINNEAPOLIS — As poorly as the Yankees have played recently, and as miserable as their offense has been, there is nothing so bad that it cannot be fixed by a visit to Minnesota and a date with the Twins.
The Yankees had staggered through a three-game sweep by the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, and five straight losses over all, but they have dominated the Twins for years and had won 9 of their 12 games at Target Field since it opened for the 2010 season, and 22 of their last 29 regular-season games against the Twins.
Away from the crushing humidity of Baltimore and the dominance of the Orioles, the Yankees sprang back to life Monday, at least for a day, and defeated the Twins, 10-4, in a game full of milestones and breakouts.
Robinson Cano hit two home runs, giving him three in his last two games, and also hit a rally-igniting double in a three-run eighth inning as the Yankees had their biggest offensive output, 10 runs and 14 hits, since they had 11 runs and 16 hits against the Royals in Kansas City on May 10.
The win also gave Manager Joe Girardi his 600th victory as a manager, including 78 with the Florida Marlins in 2006. He was hired by the Yankees in 2008 and won the World Series a year later.
“I’ve been fortunate,” Girardi said. “I’ve had some really good players along the way.”
One of those is Andy Pettitte, who did not factor in the decision Monday but did set a franchise record. Pettitte struck out two batters, giving him 1,958 as a Yankee, to pass Whitey Ford on the team’s career list.
“I feel very fortunate to be around as long as I have,” Pettitte said, “and to be mentioned along with Whitey’s name is obviously always an honor.”
Pettitte overcame a rough first inning in which he allowed three runs amid an assortment of mistakes. He walked two batters, including the leadoff hitter, and committed an error when he fell down trying to field a ball. After that he settled down and pitched four scoreless innings. But in the top of the sixth Chris Parmelee hit a leadoff home run to give the Twins a 4-3 lead.
Trailing by a run heading into the eighth, the Yankees did what they have not done very often lately: they scored three runs and took the lead for good. Cano led off with a double against relief pitcher Jared Burton and went to third when Ichiro Suzuki reached on a pinch-hit bunt single.
Burton then tried to pick off Suzuki, but his throw went wide and Cano scored the tying run as Suzuki advanced to third. Burton took the loss, and deservedly so.
“Burton had a rough time,” Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He didn’t field the bunt, and then he got flabbergasted, and it went from there.”
One out later, Zoilo Almonte slapped a single to left past the drawn-in infield and Suzuki trotted home to give the Yankees the lead. Almonte scored on a groundout by Chris Stewart to make it 6-4, and the Yankees added four more runs in the ninth.
Cano, who said he has been working on hitting balls up the middle lately, homered in his first at-bat off the Twins left-handed starter Scott Diamond, sending a ball over the wall in center near the 403-foot mark. In his next at-bat, with Jayson Nix on base after an error, Cano took Diamond the other way, lofting a high shot several rows into the seats beyond left field for his 19th homer. More important, it tied the score, 3-3, in the third.
Cano, who was batting .276 on June 23, is now up to .293.
“I just hope to continue to help the team win games and keep doing my job with men on base,” he said.
But until Alex Rodriguez returns from his minor league rehabilitation, which begins Tuesday, Cano could find it difficult to find good pitches to hit as teams will undoubtedly go back to pitching around him.
“Even if I’m not, then I’m going to be ready for the first pitch,” Cano said. “And if it’s not there, I’ll just go to first base.”
Derek Jeter inched closer to a minor league rehabilitation assignment Monday when he ran the bases for the first time since he broke his left ankle for a second time in spring training. Now that he is running, Joe Girardi said the next step in the process for Jeter is to play games, but the Yankees have not announced a timetable for that. ... Francisco Cervelli, recovering from a broken right hand, took batting practice Monday in Tampa, Fla., for the first time since the injury.