Avoiding a season-high fifth straight loss was a start for the New York Yankees. Stringing some wins together, however, is the only way baseball’s most expensive team is going to make up ground in the playoff race.
The Yankees look to finish a disappointing road trip on a positive note Wednesday afternoon when they conclude a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
After splitting four games at Texas, the Yankees (64-56) fell victim to the red-hot Los Angeles Angels over the weekend, getting swept in three straight before they were shut down by Minnesota’s Glen Perkins in a 4-0 loss on Monday.
On Tuesday, Mariano Rivera suffered his first blown save of the season when he served up a game-tying three-run homer to Delmon Young in the eighth inning. Alex Rodriguez, though, homered in the 12th, lifting New York to a 9-6 victory that snapped a four-game skid.
“We haven’t seen Mo do that all year,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s strange when it happens, but obviously you have to find a way to win the game.”
Rivera was off to a career-best 28-for-28 start to the season on save chances. Young’s homer was the first he allowed to the Twins in 54 2-3 career innings.
“I was thinking, hopefully it goes foul,” Rivera said. “It didn’t go foul. So we have to battle and preserve the tie game.”
The win kept the Yankees five games behind wild card-leading Boston and pulled them within eight games of Tampa Bay in the AL East.
Minnesota (66-53), which lost for the second time in six games, dropped one-half game behind the Central-leading Chicago White Sox. It marked the third time this month that the Twins lost the division lead after gaining it the previous game.
“Delmon hitting the big three-run homer, that was pretty doggone exciting,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t come up with another run after that.”
Missing from Minnesota’s lineup was All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, who sat out with a stiff neck. Mauer, among the AL leaders in batting (.316), said he has had stiffness for the last three days, but didn’t think it would become an ongoing issue.
“When I woke up today it was pretty stiff and sore, but I mean it’s getting better,” Mauer said. “Get back in there and let the trainers work on me some more.”
Should Mauer return, he will be looking for his first career hit against New York’s Darrell Rasner (5-8, 5.28 ERA), who moves back into a starting role. The struggling right-hander gave up three runs and five hits over 4 1-3 innings in the Yankees’ 10-5 loss to the Angels on Friday in his first relief appearance since Sept. 24, 2006.
Rasner is 1-4 with a 6.82 ERA in his last six starts, failing to pitch more than six innings in any of those outings. He was tagged for five runs and seven hits over four innings in his most recent start, a 14-9 loss to the Angels on Aug. 3.
Rasner faced the Twins on July 22, yielding two runs, four hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings of his team’s 8-2 victory. He is 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA in three career starts against Minnesota.
Ineffective in his first two career starts against the Yankees, Kevin Slowey (8-8, 4.07) gets a shot at redemption Wednesday. New York has battered the right-hander for nine runs and 13 hits through nine innings in a pair of wins.
Slowey was reached for four runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings when matched up against Rasner at Yankee Stadium on July 22.
He limited Kansas City to one run and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-1 victory on Friday.