Mistakes hamper Yanks in loss to Twins
Defeat in finale leaves New York with 3-7 mark on road trip
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Yankees wrapped up an underwhelming road trip with a 4-2 loss to the Twins on Wednesday at the Metrodome, managing just five hits in the finale of a 10-game swing that dealt a significant blow to their playoff chances.
New York lost seven of the 10 games on the trek to Texas, Anaheim and Minnesota, including dropping two of the three games played against the Twins. In the finale, Delmon Young slugged a three-run homer for the second consecutive contest, lifting Minnesota to victory in a game that manager Joe Girardi would deride for his club's mental mistakes.
"It was a sloppy game," Girardi said. "There were miscues today that hurt us. There's no excuse."
With the injured Derek Jeter by his side on the bench, Girardi watched with some chagrin as the afternoon was marred by specific examples of sloppy Yankees defense.
Prior to Young's fourth-inning home run off starter Darrell Rasner, Robinson Cano was charged with an error for coming off second base on a fielder's-choice throw, accounting for an unearned run. Cano said that second-base umpire Brian Runge said Joe Mauer had beaten the throw regardless.
Later, Melky Cabrera and Cano did not properly communicate on a Nick Punto popup in the eighth inning that hit off Cabrera's glove and fell for a single. Cano and fill-in shortstop Wilson Betemit were crossed up when Mauer tried to steal second base in the eighth inning, with Rodriguez's throw whizzing past both and striking Betemit near the left thigh.
"I don't understand it," Girardi said. "We've been playing way too long to have that happen. ... It's something that shouldn't happen. These guys have played together long enough. They understand what they need to do. Sometimes it's just trying to do too much, and you can't."
On another play, Johnny Damon threw to second base on a sixth-inning flyout, allowing Justin Morneau to take an extra base -- though it didn't lead to a run. Cano acknowledged that his defense has not been up to par recently.
"I would say there are some ground balls that I should have caught," Cano said. "I don't want to say it's mental. Maybe my first step has to be more aggressive."
With Rasner in his fourth inning of work, catcher Ivan Rodriguez trudged for a mound visit to work carefully to Young, but the outfielder teed off on a 2-1 cutter to right-center -- his seventh homer of the season and second in less than 24 hours, having touched Mariano Rivera for a game-tying blast in the eighth inning on Tuesday.
"I left it up a little bit, and he put a good swing on it and hit it to the right part of the ballpark," Rasner said. "It was up, and that was the trouble. If it was down, I think it's a different story."
Reinserted into the Yankees' rotation after Ian Kennedy's struggles and Joba Chamberlain's injury, Rasner lasted five innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits while walking one and striking out four. It was another tough decision for Rasner, who is 2-8 in his past 13 starts but once again would have fared better with moderate run support.
Trying to take advantage of some of the momentum from Tuesday's thrilling 12-inning victory, the Yankees were able to put an early run on the board, touching Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey for the first run he had allowed in a first inning this season.
Alex Rodriguez stroked a two-out double to right-center, and Jason Giambi followed by pounding a single off the baggy in right field, collecting his 68th RBI of the season.
"The first inning, we were swinging the bats pretty good," Girardi said. "I thought it would carry through. But it just didn't."
Slowey held the Yankees in check through six innings, limiting New York to three hits and a walk in a 91-pitch effort that prompted them -- once more -- to tip their caps to an opposing pitcher, an act they're getting plenty tired of.
"We were ready to go," Damon said. "Unfortunately, that guy standing on the mound wasn't giving in. He changed a couple of arm angles at times and just pitched a good game. We couldn't get anything going off of him except for the first inning. It seemed he was having an easy time with us. No one should have an easy time with us."
Following Rasner, long reliever Dan Giese came in but allowed a hit and two walks to load the bases before leaving with a stiff right shoulder, flanked by trainer Steve Donohue and putting his upcoming start on Tuesday in question. David Robertson finished up the inning, allowing a run-scoring sacrifice fly to Brian Buscher.
In the eighth, Dennys Reyes fanned Bobby Abreu on a wild pitch that allowed Rodriguez to score with New York's second run, but it wasn't enough to stave off the defeat, as Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 32nd save. The Yankees have lost 12 of 18 since an eight-game win streak to open the second half.
"You can't feel good about your road trip," Girardi said. "You can't look backwards. You can only look forward. There's nothing you can do about what we just did. You can just look forward."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.