Yankees' old men still pack a punch

Rookie Liam Hendriks gave up four homers, while Andy Pettitte pitched six shutout innings.

The Yankees corner outfielders Monday were at least 38 years old. Captain Derek Jeter is 38 and battling a bone bruise in his right foot. Alex Rodriguez is 36.

When they lose, you wonder when some of these guys are going to hop in their Mercedes and drive off into retirement.

Then there are nights like Monday, when they can play the experience card, turn pitches from Liam Hendriks into mincemeat and look like a team that won't be a postseason pushover.

There was no spoiler role for the Twins to play Monday, when New York hit four home runs off Hendriks on its way to a 6-3 victory at Target Field. The Twins were coming off winning two of three in Detroit, but they couldn't score a run in six innings off 40-year-old Andy Pettitte.

The Yankees, who moved 1 1/2 games in front of Baltimore in the race for the AL East, have seemed to be waiting for their team to get fully healthy most of the season, but they have been able to remain in contention.

When they lose, they look old and slow. When they win, it's a testament to veteran know-it-all. They are trying to prove that 40 is the new 30, even in baseball.

"Every team battles injuries," Jeter said. "That's when you find out how good teams are. You have to get contributions from man people. Experience helps, but that doesn't always mean you'll overcome things."

Jeter has been slowed in recent weeks by the bone bruise, forcing him to be the designated hitter in six of the previous nine games. But he was able to start at his customary spot at shortstop Monday and went 1-for-3.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he is trying to get Jeter back in the field every day, but he has to be smart about it.

"I cringe every time he hits a ball in the hole," Girardi said. "You're hoping that the [infielder] doesn't get to it because that will be one time he will kill himself busting it to first base."

Hendriks attempted to win his second start in a row while trying to tame the most experienced and expensive lineup he has ever faced, and it didn't go well for the 23-year-old rookie righthander.

A walk to Jeter, double by Ichiro Suzuki and RBI groundout by Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the first. Then Nick Swisher's two-run homer, estimated at 428 feet, pushed the lead to 3-0.

Hendriks appeared to settle down for a couple innings. But Curtis Granderson got hold of a 1-1 pitch and buried it into the seats in right field for a 4-0 New York lead. That one was estimated at 437 feet.

Two more innings of peace, then 40-year-old Raul Ibanez and 34-year-old Eric Chavez hit solo homers. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, and his hook, headed for the mound to remove Hendriks (1-8).

"A good lineup," Hendriks said. "No breaks. No breathers."

Gardenhire hopes Hendriks learns the importance of being consistent. At times, Hendriks looked one step ahead of hitters. Then, he would serve one up.

"Every time he missed, they really made him pay," Gardenhire said.

Pettitte (5-3) escaped trouble throughout his six shutout innings, scattering seven hits while walking one and striking out three in dropping his ERA to 2.71. He doesn't need lessons on being consistent, he teaches the class.

It was evident in the first inning when Denard Span and Ben Revere opened with singles. Joe Mauer flew out, but Pettitte was not going to let Josh Willingham hit his 36th home off him.

The lefthander walked Willingham to load the bases and get the lefthanded-hitting Justin Morneau to the plate. Pettitte struck out Morneau before retiring Ryan Doumit on a grounder.

"It didn't bother me to walk him one bit," Pettitte said of Willingham. "He's a righthanded-hitting power hitter."

That's the savvy the Yankees are trying to ride into the postseason, and the kind of savvy the Twins wished more of their pitchers had.

  • N.Y. YANKEES 6, TWINS 3 Up next: 7:10 tonight vs. N.Y. Yankees • Target Field • FSN (1500-AM)

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