Just another night in Bronx for Twins

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 5, 2011 - 12:23 AM

They managed a competitive game but still fell to the Yankees again.

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NEW YORK - The weather was October-like, with a game-time temperature of 57 degrees, and the Twins were in postseason form.

The Yankees' famed Bleacher Creatures barely had finished roll call Monday night, when Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit two homers to give New York a four-run lead.

This likely spoiled the dinner hour in Minnesota, and many viewers probably changed the channel, thinking they were watching the same old story.

But the Twins actually pushed the Yankees to the end this time before the bullpen trio of Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera slammed the door on a 4-3 victory.

"It was a good effort, the best baseball game we've really played this year," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who fell to 6-31 in the Bronx, including four postseason series. "That's kind of the way we want to go to keep getting better."

Scott Baker recorded two quick outs in the first inning and got ahead in the count 0-2 to Mark Teixeira before hitting him on the right foot with a slider. Teixeira doubled over in pain, and the Yankees fans groaned. The first baseman had hit a home run in each of New York's first three games.

"I was just trying to do too much," said Baker, still kicking himself for "trying to throw the best breaking ball you've ever thrown."

Baker's next pitch was high and tight to Rodriguez, and the fans disapproved with boos. But Rodriguez turned on Baker's next pitch -- a fastball clocked at 90 miles per hour -- and pulled it into the left field seats.

Posada's homer in the second inning followed Baker's leadoff walk to Nick Swisher, and just like that it was 4-0. Just another Bronx nightmare for the Twins, it seemed. But Baker settled down, finishing six innings and giving the Twins a chance to come back.

What changed?

"Basically it's starting over with your mechanics and with your mentality," Baker said. "Just allowing everything to catch up, not jumping out there too quick."

Gardenhire credited Baker for righting himself but added, "Unfortunately, the damage was done early and we were never able to catch up."

Facing Yankees starter Ivan Nova for the first time, the Twins didn't get their first hit until the fourth inning, when Justin Morneau hit a two-out double. Delmon Young reached on an infield single, and then Jim Thome stroked a two-run double to right-center.

Young did his part on defense with a diving catch near the left field line to end the fourth inning, robbing Brett Gardner of a hit that would have scored at least two runs.

An inning later the Twins got another big two-out hit, this one from Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who sliced an RBI double into the left-center gap. The first extra-base hit of Nishioka's career trimmed New York's lead to 4-3.

But after Nova's six innings, the Twins could do nothing against Chamberlain in the seventh inning, Yankees newcomer Soriano in the eighth or Rivera in the ninth. Rivera pitched around a two-out single to record his 29th career save against the Twins.

"Guys were getting after it in the dugout, but once you get to the back end of the Yankees bullpen, it's pretty good," Gardenhire said. "Getting behind is not a good recipe against too many teams and especially these guys."

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