Hoping to get the finale of the three-game series in amid the forecast of more rain, the teams meet in a decisive contest at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
After New York (80-54) took the opener 8-1 on Friday night, the Twins (78-61) bounced back to win 6-1 in an eight-inning, rain-shortened contest Saturday. Twins rookie Scott Baker shut down the Yankees for the second time this season, holding them to two hits in five innings, and Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer off Ron Villone in the eighth.
In addition to the game being shortened, the heavy winds also appeared to hurt New York, blunting its powerful lineup. Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano had solidly hit balls that seemed to be destined for the stands before dropping well short of the wall for outs.
“Any other day, I’m telling you, that would have hit that black stuff out there,” Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said of Rodriguez’s long fourth-inning drive that he caught. “That would have been one of the longest home runs ever in this stadium.”
The wind, though, didn’t knock down Morneau’s shot or that of Hunter, who delivered a solo homer.
“My ball found a tunnel,” Hunter said. “I must have been lucky.”
The victory was only the second in six games for Minnesota, which remained a half-game behind Chicago for the wild card.
Minnesota had scored only eight runs in its last five games before Saturday.
Derek Jeter drove in the only run for the Yankees with an RBI double, extending his hitting streak to 13 games and matching his season high.
New York maintained an eight-game lead in the AL East after Boston lost to Toronto earlier Saturday.
The Yankees will have to try to win this series without Mariano Rivera, who was ruled out for the weekend by manager Joe Torre because of a mild muscle strain in his right elbow. The All-Star closer didn’t pitch in the first two games.
“I’m just going to shut him down for a few days. Let’s see if a few days off will help, try and relieve some of the discomfort,” Torre said. “It doesn’t feel normal.
“We’ll see Monday when we get to Kansas City where we’re at.”
The Twins will send Matt Garza (1-3, 5.06 ERA) to the mound Sunday. The 22-year-old right-hander will look to build on the best performance of his young career, as he pitched 7 2-3 innings of two-run ball but lost 2-0 to Kansas City on Tuesday. The right-hander gave up five hits and struck out a career-high seven with one walk in his fourth career start.
“There’s always that excitement to pitch in a place like Yankee Stadium, with all the history here,” said Garza, who has not faced the Yankees. “But you really can’t worry about that.”
New York will counter with Darrell Rasner (0-0, 0.00), who will be making his second appearance of the season after pitching once in relief for the Yankees in June. The right-hander pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings in a 7-6 loss to Detroit, allowing one hit and striking out one.
Rasner, 25, will be making his second career start and seventh appearance. His first start came last season with Washington, when he lasted only 2 2-3 innings in a 4-2 loss to Florida, giving up three runs and four hits while walking two.