MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The New York Yankees are creeping forward after their now-annual slow start, their still-fearsome lineup nearly reassembled from a rash of injuries.
In taking the first two of four in Minnesota, both by one run, only seven of the Yankees’ 27 hits have been for extra bases. They stole four bases in this game, though Alex Rodriguez’s attempt for a fifth was thwarted by a nifty pickoff move by Dennys Reyes in the 10th.
This was their eighth win in the last 10 games, and they moved to 28-27— above the break-even mark for the first time since May 4. When catcher Jorge Posada rejoins his teammates next week, he’ll find a group with a good vibe and plenty of fuel for the summer. For a while, it looked as if this team might be too old to keep up in the race anymore.
“This is where we need to be,” Damon said. “This is what we’ve been missing early on. Seemed like mistakes would come find us. Now we’re trying to put the mistakes on the other team.”
Mike Lamb just missed ending the game for the Twins in the 10th, hustling for a two-out triple after a high drive off the right-field wall against Ross Ohlendorf (1-1), who earned his first major league win with two scoreless innings. He struck out Carlos Gomez on a pitch well out of the zone to end that threat.
“We just couldn’t come up with a big hit,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Twins left two men on in both the 10th and with none out in the 11th, for a total of 12. Mariano Rivera pitched the 12th for his 15th save in 15 tries.
“It’s certainly a memorable night. It makes it special for me in that it was a pressure situation,” Ohlendorf said.
Bonser probably wasn’t good enough to avoid a move to the bullpen, yielding five hits and three walks in five innings, but three unearned runs in the third inning sure weren’t his fault.
The normally sure-fielding Nick Punto came off the disabled list, started at shortstop with the chance to work his way into the everyday lineup again … and fumbled an easy grounder.
His error was the definition of costly, too, following a two-out walk drawn by Damon. It allowed Jeter to reach, setting up an RBI double by Abreu and a two-run single by Rodriguez. Both of those hits soared straight over Punto’s head and out of his reach.
Bonser acknowledged that his tenuous status weighed on him.
“Hopefully I’ll get another chance,” he said.
After totaling 40 home runs over the last two seasons, Cuddyer has only two this year—and this was his first in more than a month. That was also the first run charged to Ramirez this season after 47 outs.
Wang was unimpressive again for the Yankees, failing to win for the fifth straight start. He gave up nine hits, five runs and three walks—all by Alexi Casilla—in 5 1-3 innings. Gomez, the last batter he faced, hit an RBI single to cut New York’s lead to 6-5.
This came after Bonser began the sixth by ominously walking Hideki Matsui. Jason Giambi singled, Jesse Crain was summoned from the bullpen, and soon the lead was three. Melky Cabrera followed Jose Molina’s tiebreaker with a sacrifice fly, and Damon added an RBI single.
“I knew what I was going up against with this team,” Bonser said.
Jeter went 1-for-6 and has four hits in his last 43 at-bats. Manager Joe Girardi said before the game it’s “possible” the slump stems from the pitch that hit Jeter on the hand against Baltimore on May 20, but he didn’t express concern. … Cuddyer was growing out a beard he didn’t plan to shave until he homered again, but he showed up at the stadium Saturday sporting only a goatee. “It just gets all itchy,” he said. … The Twins plan to discount certain tickets by the current amount of the national average per-gallon price of gas, updated each week. … Ramirez’s scoreless streak was actually 21 appearances, including eight in Triple-A. … LH Craig Breslow got five outs without a baserunner, including three strikeouts in his Twins debut.