Twins 5, Yankees 1

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Minnesota’s Scott Baker stared down the loaded New York lineup and didn’t flinch.

Baker pitched seven strong innings in his first start against the Yankees, leading the Twins to a 5-1 victory on Friday that extended their winning streak to four.

“Regardless of who I’m facing, if I’m going to be nervous it’s not going to help the situation,” said Baker (1-1), who gave up one run, three hits and one walk while striking out four and consistently getting ahead in the count.

The 24-year-old Baker silenced an offense that scored 40 runs while winning its previous four games, impressing an All-Star-laden clubhouse that had never faced him before.

“He kept the ball off the fat of the bat really well,” New York manager Joe Torre said. “He lived up to his scouting report. But it comes down to being able to do what you want to do, and it looked like he was able to do that.”

Baker turned in the Twins’ second straight quality start, after the staff went the first eight games without one. This was his 11th major league start, though he pitched with just as much poise as his far more accomplished foe, Minnesota killer Mike Mussina (1-1).

“What good is it going to do to show your emotion? They’re going to eat you up if they get a glimpse of any kind of distress like that,” Baker said.

The bottom five in the Twins’ order went 8-for-18 with three RBIs and all five runs scored. Juan Castro and Justin Morneau each went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Castro’s single pushed the lead to 3-1, chasing Mussina in the seventh. In the eighth against Kyle Farnsworth, Morneau drove in Torii Hunter with a single and Tony Batista doubled in Morneau to make it 5-1.

Those big hits made moot a missed fifth-inning call by plate umpire Ed Montague.

Bernie Williams hit a medium fly to right fielder Lew Ford, who charged, wound up and made a perfect one-hop throw to catcher Joe Mauer. Jorge Posada used a textbook slide to sneak his hand on the plate, and replays showed he eluded Mauer’s sweep tag. But Montague ruled him out, receiving a brief complaint from Posada and Torre.

“He calls it out. He sees it out. That is the way it goes,” Posada said.

In the eighth against Juan Rincon, the Yankees had themselves to blame for not scoring. Posada walked and Robinson Cano chopped a single over Batista at third, but Williams bounced into a 4-6-3 double play. The inning ended on Johnny Damon’s groundout.

Baker gave up a run in the third on an RBI groundout by Derek Jeter, but he was steady throughout the night—striking out Alex Rodriguez twice.

“We definitely didn’t know much about him,” Damon said. “He did a great job. We have to tip our hat to him. He didn’t throw anything in the middle part of the plate. He didn’t make any mistakes. He was getting in and out. He was throwing strikes up and down.”

Mussina (1-1) was stuck with his third straight defeat to the Twins, a team he’s still 20-5 with a 3.17 ERA against in 28 starts. Mussina allowed three runs, six hits and two walks in 6 2-3 innings with five strikeouts.

“I did what I wanted to do with the ball most of the time. I felt strong. I used all my pitches in almost any count,” Mussina said. “I had almost seven innings and gave up six singles. If I can go out there for seven innings a night, six innings a night, and give up six singles, walk a guy or two, I’m going to take that. That’s not bad. These guys are going to score runs.”

Notes

After lasting only five innings and 87 pitches because of fatigue in Thursday’s win over Kansas City, Randy Johnson will make his next start, Torre said. The lanky lefty will pitch Tuesday at Toronto, skipping ahead of Shawn Chacon in the rotation. … A beach ball landed in left field in the fifth inning, forcing the nearest ballboy to sprint over and fetch it. But instead of performing the familiar puncture, he tossed it back in the seats. The ballboy got several fist bumps when he returned to the Twins’ bullpen. … Minnesota planed to promote veteran OF Ruben Sierra on Tuesday. Sierra, who spent the last two seasons with New York, stayed behind for extended spring training to strengthen his strained quadriceps. … LHP Matt Smith made his major league debut for the Yankees in the eighth. … Luis Castillo’s errant throw to Morneau ended a span of 239 total chances without an error, dating to April 6. … Minnesota DH Rondell White went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a double-play groundout. He’s batting .079 (3-for-38) with one double and two RBIs.

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