Maybe the battle for center field between Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner is a meaningless. After Johnny Damon was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, Gardner took over the game and again ignited a late comeback. But Cabrera became the hero in the ninth as the Yankees (18-17) nipped the Twins (18-18) 5-4.
Justin Morneau homered twice off Phil Hughes – his second gave the Twins a 3-0 lead in the fifth. The Yankee captain Derek Jeter began chipping away at the deficit with a solo shot to where else but right field. Hughes left after the fifth, and Phil Coke allowed a bases-empty home run to Joe Mauer in the seventh.
Francisco Liriano was taken out after six innings of work (six walks), and Gardner took advantage of the situation. He blooped a fly ball barely fair down the left field line and the ball took a top spin hop past Denard Span, opening the door for Brett “the jet” to use his wheels. He sped around all three bases and dove in head first at home for an inside-the-parker, making the score 4-2.
Joe Nathan came on in the ninth looking for his seventh save, but the Yankees had other plans. After a leadoff triple from Gardner, Mark Teixeira singled up the middle to bring in Gardner. A couple of walks and a couple of outs later, Cabrera stepped up to the batter’s box with the bases loaded. He jumped on the first pitch he saw from Nathan and inserted it in the gap in left-center field. “And the Yankees win the game!” – Michael kay. Full box score here.
I think Melky and Brett do better when both are in the game at the same time, even though there’s only room for one of them in center field. Anyway, what a way to start a homestand. That’s three in a row, and five out of seven.
- Alex Rodriguez received cheers before his first at bat, but after he struck out with the bases loaded in his second AB, he heard the boos. He finished his Yankee Stadium debut 0-for-1 with four walks.
- Gardner went 3-for-3, just a double short of the cycle. His hot hitting as of late has lifted his average to .256.
Game 2 of the series will be a Saturday matinee featuring Nick Blackburn (2-2, 4.32) and Joba Chamberlain (2-1, 3.89). First pitch is set for 1:05.