Twins starter Ramon Ortiz pitched eight innings, allowing only three hits against the potent Yankees' lineup.

Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

TWINS 5, N.Y. YANKEES 1 Up next: 7:10 tonight vs. Tampa Bay • FSN

Ortiz follows orders, wins

  • Article by: La Velle E. Neal III
  • Star Tribune
  • April 12, 2007 - 12:09 AM

If Ramon Ortiz can execute orders like this, maybe the Twins should have asked him to execute their stadium plan. They could have unveiled the design months ago instead of today, and had a chunk of the excavation work completed by now.

Ortiz was asked by the Twins to take deep breaths before winding up and use all his pitches. He's done that.

He was asked Wednesday to pitch Alex Rodriguez and his teammates tough inside, and Ortiz followed the plan to help the Twins beat the New York Yankees 5-1 and avoid getting swept in the three-game series.

After two strong starts, Ortiz looks capable of doing anything the Twins ask.

While holding the Yankees to one run on three hits over eight innings, Ortiz improved to 2-0, saved a depleted bullpen and finally stopped the Yankees from beating down his teammates.

"Ortiz was really, really good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He gave us a huge lift. Our bullpen needed it, obviously. There wasn't much out there."

The Twins scored four runs in the eighth inning to break through and salvage one victory after being outscored 18-3 while losing the first two games of the series. New York looked favored for another victory because the Twins were without relievers Jesse Crain (sore shoulder) and Juan Rincon (family emergency).

In fact, the many Yankee fans among the announced crowd of 30,131 had enjoyed the first two games so much they began the "Yankee Roll Call" in the first inning, chanting a Yankee player's name until that player waved to their section.

But the Yankees came up and sat down all night as Ortiz successfully went after them.

"I throw inside the whole night because we have to throw inside," Ortiz said. "The Yankees are great hitters. [You've] got to make a good pitch and that's what we did tonight."

The red flag with Ortiz in the past has been that little threats become big innings against him.

"You have to avoid the big innings before they start," pitching coach Rick Anderson said.

Such a time came in the fourth inning when Johnny Damon singled and Derek Jeter walked. Anderson and catcher Joe Mauer went to the mound to chat up Ortiz. Three fly-ball outs followed, including a sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez, for New York's only run of the game.

Ortiz lasted eight innings and 93 pitches. Along the way, he pounded his fist in his glove after outs and patted his teammates on the back after they made good plays.

"He's a fun guy to watch," Crain said. "I was in here [the clubhouse] watching him and I was getting pumped up. That makes it fun. He has a good time out there."

Ortiz was asked how he got through the fourth inning.

"You know what happened?" he replied. "I've got a good pitching coach."

Anderson laughed when he was told of the remark.

"How much do I owe him for that?" Anderson said.

La Velle E. Neal III •

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