MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Lacking pinpoint control, Roger Clemens left with a six-run lead.
Everything seems to be going right for the New York Yankees this season.
Clemens won his 296th career game and the Yankees hit four home runs, two of them upper-deck shots by Robin Ventura, to end Minnesota’s six-game winning streak with an 11-4 victory Friday night.
“We’re playing really well right now,” manager Joe Torre said. “We’re hitting, and we’re getting real good starting pitching. That’s something we expect, but we didn’t expect to be so good this early.”
That’s 10 straight wins for New York against the Twins the last two seasons. The last time Minnesota beat the Yankees was May 10, 2001.
“You better be good when you play them,” said Ron Gardenhire, who’s never beaten the Yankees as manager of the Twins.
They’ve only given up four.
Clemens (3-0) struck out eight and allowed one run in six innings, lowering his ERA to 2.08 and stretching the record of New York’s starting pitchers to a franchise-best 11-0.
“When you have a lead, you want to keep the lead,” Clemens said, “so guys can get inside and add to it.
“I just tried to make good pitches. I was fortunate enough to strike some people out.”
Twins starter Brad Radke (1-2) allowed seven runs and nine hits in five innings.
The Yankees, off to their best start ever at 13-3 and leading the AL in batting, began a 10-game road trip in impressive fashion.
Soriano sent an 0-1 pitch from Radke into the left-field seats, hushing the crowd of 37,843.
Ventura hit his fourth homer in the second inning on a high drive into the upper deck in right field, and Mondesi made it 3-1 with his fourth of the season—a line drive to left-center that had enough air under it to reach the seats.
“They’ve got guys hitting in the one hole, two hole, the three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine hole who can hit cleanup on any other team,” Radke said. “It’s monster baseball.”
Radke is a great control pitcher, but his ability to always be around the plate can hurt him as much as it helps—especially against power-packed lineups like New York’s.
If the defending AL Central champion Twins want to match or improve upon last year’s postseason success, they might have to find a way to be more competitive against the Yankees.
“I’d like to face them again in the playoffs, that’s for sure,” Radke said. “I’m kind of glad we only play them seven times this year, the way they’ve been beating us around.”
The Yankees teed off in a four-run sixth, sending Radke to the clubhouse.
Fiore—who could be demoted when Mike Fetters comes off the disabled list Sunday—wasn’t any better, giving up three hits in 1 2-3 innings, including a two-run homer to Ventura in the seventh.
Clemens, whose record against Minnesota in 42 career starts is 23-12, is off to an excellent start this year—just like the rest of the Yankees’ rotation.
That’s all they got off Clemens.
Balls were hit hard, and a batter reached base in every inning besides the sixth, but Clemens had his signature high fastball buzzing past Twins bats all night despite falling behind in the count several times.
“We thought we made him work,” Gardenhire said, “but we just couldn’t stop him. Nothing he does surprises me.”
Matsui drove in a run with a ninth-inning double off Juan Rincon and scoredon a wild pitch to make it 11-4.
Minnesota’s Torii Hunter, 0-for-20 in his career against Clemens, walked through a horde of reporters talking to the right-hander in the hallway outside the Yankees’ clubhouse and yelled “Roger, you’re nasty!” … Clemens made a nifty—albeit somewhat risky—play in the third to get Cristian Guzman on a grounder, taking a toss from first baseman Jason Giambi and sliding into the corner of the bag. “I hold my breath every time that happens,” Torresaid.