Somewhere, Ron Gardenhire looked out at the dying coals of the campfire, cracked a Bud Light and said, “Thirteen years, you banjo hitters, and now you decide to swing the bats when you see that ‘NY.’ ”
I can’t guarantee that was the scenario on Friday night. I’m just hoping that Gardy was properly peeved when he heard that the Twins had hit four home runs and clobbered the Yankees 10-1 in Paul Molitor’s first go-round against them as the manager.
Gardenhire managed the Twins from 2002 through 2014 and he had a regular-season record of 1,068-1039 for a .507 winning percentage. Throw out 90 games against the Yankees, he was 1,042-975 for an impressive .517 winning percentage.
Gardy’s Twins were 26-64 in the regular season and 2-12 in the playoffs against the Yankees. They scored 10 runs three times in 104 games against the Yankees and lost twice.
Now, Molitor, a guy who already is in the Hall of Fame, managed his first game against the Yankees and his lineup turned into the Sultans of Swat — with home runs from Miguel Sano, Torii Hunter, Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier, three doubles from Eddie Rosario and, get this, two RBI singles from Kurt Suzuki.
Fourteen hits and 31 total bases. You’re right, Gardy. Sometimes life isn’t fair.
“Gardy was probably looking at the TV, saying, ‘What’s going on here?’ ” Hunter said. “The Twins always had trouble with the Yankees … when I was here and after I left.
“We’re playing well at home, though. We got to, otherwise there’s no dance party. The only way you can get into the party is by winning.”
The Twins are 32-16 at Target Field, the best home record in the American League. The fumes were hanging thick in the clubhouse, several minutes after the Twins put away the smoke machine and the other amenities required for the post-victory celebration at home.
Too bad Gardy wasn’t anywhere in the vicinity to serve as a guest. Ten-to-one over the Yankees … the affable ex-manager would have boogied and woogied for a few of those over the Bombers.
The last time the Twins defeated the Yankees by as many as nine runs was 12-3 on July 31, 1991, in the previous big ballpark in the Bronx. Kevin Tapani was the winner and there were also four home runs: two by Shane Mack, one apiece for Kent Hrbek and Chili Davis.
The Twins won the World Series that season, but don’t take this as a sign from the baseball heavens. The Yankees were miserable that season (71-91), so beating them by nine runs gave no indication of the glory to follow.
The Yankees team that came to Target Field on Friday was a different outfit. They arrived with a 12-4 record in July and had stretched a lead to 5½ games in the AL East. They were benefiting from the revival of Alex Rodriguez (who turns 40 on Monday), Mark Teixeira (35) and Brian McCann (31), the excellence of Brett Gardner (31) and return from injury from Jacoby Ellsbury (31).
This looked to be quite a chore for Phil Hughes, a Yankee for seven seasons before he signed with the Twins as an exceptional free-agent acquisition for 2014.
Hughes was leading the AL in home runs allowed with 23. He had given one or more in eight consecutive starts and 16 of 19. Furthermore, Hughes didn’t even have the vacationing Bert Blyleven in the TV booth to offer the comforting observation:
“A home run isn’t bad as long as it’s a solo home run.”
Hughes had made his first start after the All-Star Game at Oakland on Saturday, gave up a home run to Billy Butler and left trailing 1-0 after seven innings, so that theory might have been tough to swallow.
Friday, Hughes was facing the Yankees for the third time (1-1 in 2014) and Rodriguez for the first time. A-Rod was sitting out the entire season because of his suspension for PED use in 2014, as Hughes was putting up a tremendous first year in Minnesota.
“I’ve faced A-Rod … in live batting practice in spring training,” Hughes said. “That’s it.”
Rodriguez singled off Hughes in the first, then struck out looking and flied out. When it was over, Hughes again had gone seven, and this time nothing on the scoreboard, not even a solo on a night where it would’ve been harmless.