Twins 6, Yankees 1, 8 innings, rain
NEW YORK (AP)—Crack! Alex Rodriguez connected on a big swing and sent a long drive soaring toward the black batter’s eye beyond the center-field fence.
It definitely sounded like a home run. And right off the bat, it looked like a no-doubter.
Not on this day, though.
Torii Hunter took a few steps back, stopped in his tracks and calmly waited as a fierce wind pushed the ball down until it landed softly in his glove.
“That’s as good as I can hit it,” Rodriguez said. “I really thought it was going somewhere.”
“We all saw the conditions. They were pretty ugly,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I’m glad we got through the day and no one got killed.”
Scott Baker shut down New York’s loaded lineup for the second time this season, pitching the Twins to only their second victory in their past 14 games at Yankee Stadium.
Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer for Minnesota and Hunter also connected — two line shots that cut right through the wind from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto.
“My ball found a tunnel,” Hunter said. “I must have been lucky.”
Minnesota, which began the day a half-game behind Chicago in the AL wild-card race, had lost four of five. But after scoring no more than three runs in their previous five games, the Twins outhit New York 10-2 and got effective work from a pair of relievers.
The Yankees remained eight games ahead of second-place Boston in the AL East.
Recalled from the minors Friday, Baker (4-7) allowed only two hits in five innings for his first big league win since July 17 against Tampa Bay.
“He throws up in the zone really well,” Rodriguez said. “He works up unusually often for a young pitcher.”
Baker also beat Mike Mussina and the Yankees 5-1 on April 14 in Minnesota, yielding just three hits in seven innings.
This time, he defeated rookie Jeff Karstens (1-1) in a matchup of 23-year-old right-handers.
Making his Yankee Stadium debut, Karstens was impressive. Coming off a road win against the Los Angeles Angels, he gave up only two runs and six hits in seven innings.
“He’s good,” Hunter said. “That curveball is sick.”
Still, Karstens was handed his first loss at any level since May 9 with Triple-A Columbus. And with Mussina ready to come off the disabled list, Karstens might not get another start for a while.
“I was very impressed by him being able to keep his composure through the bad weather and all,” Yankees catcher Sal Fasano said. “He controlled the game for the most part.”
With a steady rain intensifying, umpires halted play after Crain walked pinch-hitter Bernie Williams to start the bottom of the eighth.
The game was called after a 44-minute delay.
Paid attendance was 53,220, but most of the seats at Yankee Stadium were empty on a blustery afternoon.
The wind wreaked havoc with popups and fly balls all day, though the heavy residual rain that was expected from Ernesto held off until the late innings.
“I was scared,” Hunter said. “You don’t play in wind like that every day.”
The Yankees tied it in the third on a two-out RBI double by Derek Jeter, which extended his hitting streak to 13 games—matching his season high.
Hunter hit his 22nd homer in the fourth, a solo shot for a 2-1 edge.
Rodriguez made solid contact in the bottom half, but the wind turned his drive into an easy out.
Hunter mouthed “Wow!” after making the catch. A-Rod shook his head in disbelief, smiled as he rounded first and told manager Joe Torre he had crushed it.
“Any other day, I’m telling you, that would have hit that black stuff out there,” Hunter said. “That would have been one of the longest home runs ever in this stadium.”
New York reliever Ron Villone walked Mauer with one out in the eighth, and Cuddyer singled before Morneau lined an 0-2 pitch the other way for his 33rd home run. The three RBIs gave him 114 for the season.
Hunter singled and scored on Brian Bruney’s wild pitch, making it 6-1.
Baker entered 1-7 in 10 starts with a 6.38 ERA against opponents he had faced before. … Mussina (strained right groin) is scheduled to come off the disabled list in time to start Tuesday night in Kansas City.