Twins manager Ron Gardenhire did admit in Monday's pregame media session that he doesn’t like to give Joe Mauer a day off at Target Field, since the home fans want to see him. And with the Yankees here … goodness, a huge crowd was going to be disappointed.

That was the theory. As it turned out, the most-disappointed people had to be those charged with selling tickets to Twins games.

The first night of July. One of those nights for which Minnesotans had waited through a cold and then extra-wet spring. And there were huge areas of empty seats throughout the ballpark.

[Attendance was later announced at 29,619].

Dang. This team is in more trouble with the local sporting public than even the pessimists could have imagined. Either that, or the potential consumers realized that these weren’t really the Yankees.

The imposters from the Bronx were without Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira and Curtis Granderson. In their places were Jayson Nix, David Adams, Lyle Overbay and Zoilo Almonte.

A smart-aleck with a grasp on history would say that Horace Clark was the only missing person from the current Yankees’ lineup. That would be reference to the barren years in the Bronx from 1966 through 1973, when Clarke was often the best player on bad Yankees clubs.

Except, Clarke was a second baseman, and the one remaining superstar in the Yankees lineup is Robinson Cano.

On Monday, Cano hit a blast high off the batter’s eye in the first inning. When he came around again in the third, the Twins were leading 3-1 and Nix was on a first after Carroll played a ball off his chest for an error. One pitch, one more Cano swing and a drive to left-center, and it was 3-3.

Scott Diamond was the Twins starter and couldn’t hold the early lead. The lefty had been trying for almost a month to lose his place in the rotation and get optioned to Class AAA Rochester. The complication is that P.J. Walters, Wednesday’s scheduled starter, has been trying even harder – with nine total innings and 16 runs in the past three starts.

Mike Pelfrey is scheduled to rejoin the rotation on Saturday in Toronto. He also gave up a home run in the first inning to a second baseman on Monday night. In this case, it was Jacob Wilson of the Peoria Chiefs in the Class A Midwest League.

Pelfrey went six innings, allowing two hits, two runs and striking out five. And here’s the bonus: He was a winning pitcher for the first time since May 5 and in nine starts.

The Mauer-less Twins jumped on Andy Pettitte for three runs in the first – and it could have been more, if umpire Cory Blaser hadn’t blown a call at first base in astounding fashion.

Morneau was safe by a full step at first base, but Blaser made up his mind when Justin was about halfway down the line and called him out.


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