NEW YORK – Ryan Doumit has no House That Ruth Built illusions about his home run, no Reggie-sized ego about the blow. His sixth-inning line drive barely cleared the wall, plunked onto the front row of seats, and wasn’t far from the “314” foot sign on the foul pole. No tape-measure blast, this was more like a yardstick yank, a ball that would have been a double at Target Field.
“That’s a single in Target Field,” corrected Doumit, who wears Roger Maris’ No. 9 but bears little other similarity, “and maybe an L-9 [lineout].”
Didn’t matter. In Yankee Stadium, it’s a home run. Moreover, it’s one of the most desperately needed dingers of the Twins’ season. Doumit’s baby blast off Phil Hughes broke a 1-1 tie and propelled the Twins to their first win in a week, 4-1 over the Yankees.
“It’s a big sigh of relief,” Doumit said after the Twins broke their six-game losing streak, winning for the second time in 14 games, and beat the Yankees for the first time in six games this season. “It’s a big weight, when you’re struggling like this. Everybody tries that much harder, every missed opportunity hurts that much more.”
Which made Saturday’s U-turn feel like a shot of novocaine on an abcessed-tooth of a slump. It didn’t matter that the Twins only collected six hits. Didn’t matter that they let Robinson Cano hurt them again. Didn’t matter that Ron Gardenhire got ejected, that the Yankees lineup is missing its stars, or that Doumit’s home run, and perhaps Pedro Florimon’s, too, would have landed short of the seats at home.
“We’ve got some music playing in here,” reliever Casey Fien marveled. “And we actually beat New York!”
That’s not the feat it used to be, but for a team spiraling toward the All-Star break, for a franchise that’s now 5-13 in this billion-dollar replica of Yankee Stadium, there was no denying the psychic uplift that Samuel Deduno and a trio of home runs provided.
Deduno gave up a first-inning run when Robinson Cano slapped an RBI single off the pitcher’s right heel — “We’re trying to get him the MVP this year,” Gardenhire joked of Cano, who has an RBI, 11 in all, in every game against the Twins this year — but was masterful after that. He gave up only four hits the rest of the way, walked just three, and pitched out of a couple of game-at-stake jams.
The biggest was in the seventh, when Travis Hafner hit a one-out double; pitching coach Rick Anderson visited the mound to gauge Deduno’s energy level and help him slow down. He got Austin Romine to ground out and, with the tying run at third, got Brett Gardner to slap the ball back to the mound. Deduno pumped his fist in triumph as he delivered the ball to first base for the final out.
“That was pretty exciting,” Deduno said after improving to 5-4 on the season and lowering his ERA to 3.61. “I feel pretty strong, then I want to stay in the game.”
That’s what Gardenhire wanted, too.
“With his stuff, coming to that part of the lineup, he’s the guy you want out there,” Gardenhire said. “The ball moves all over the place. He was in control pretty much the whole game. … A super, super performance.”
Haven’t heard that much lately, have you? But a few things went right for the Twins. Aaron Hicks reached on a bunt single. Trevor Plouffe tied Josh Willingham for the team lead in homers by launching a solo shot into the Twins bullpen. Doumit foiled a double steal by throwing out Zoilo Almonte. Florimon hit a two-run homer to give the Twins some breathing room, a sky-high fly that seemed to fall straight down into the short porch, and made a couple of nice defensive plays. And Casey Fien and Glen Perkins each pitched a scoreless inning in relief, the latter picking up his first save since June 27.
“Hopefully, we can get another [win] tomorrow going into the break, so we have a little bit of momentum,” Doumit said. “It’s been a tough road trip, no doubt about it, but this one feels good.”