Twins escape patsy role at Stadium

Yankee Stadium is usually a horror house for the Twins. Over the past 10 seasons dating to 2002, including postseason play, the Yankees had beaten Minnesota at the Stadium 33 times in 40 games, including 23 of their past 27 games.

The Twins turned the tables on the Yankees Monday night, 7-3, with a balanced offensive attack and a strong outing from Carl Pavano, who earned his first career victory against the team for which he was a major flop as a free-agent acquisition years ago. Pavano was 0-1 in four career starts against the Yankees prior to this game and also lost to them twice in American League Division Series play in 2009 and 2010. Pavano’s best game against the Yankees was for the Marlins in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, but despite nine solid innings was not involved in the decision of that game which the Miami club won in the 12th.

The Yankees signed Pavano after the 2004 season, but his three years were filled with injuries and disappointment as he managed a 9-8 record with a 5.00 ERA in 21 starts. He allowed the first three batters he faced Monday night to score but held the Yankees to three hits from the second through the seventh innings while his teammates made it a rough night for Yankees starter Freddy Garcia.

Every player in the Minnesota lineup had at least one hit. Seven different players scored a run, and seven different players drove in a run. Talk about contributions up and down a lineup!

The Yankees had little of that. Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson started the game by homering off Pavano, who gave up a third run on a single by Mark Teixeira. That wiped out the 2-0 lead the Twins had given Pavano in the top of the first. The Yankees put only one runner in scoring position after the first inning.

Garcia settled down nicely after the first inning before the wheels came off in the fifth. Freddy had retired 11 consecutive batters before Alexi Casilla doubled with one out in the fifth. Garcia came back to strike out Denard Span but gave up a single to Jamey Carroll and a double to Joe Mauer, who had three hits, and lost the lead.

“What we saw a lot from Freddy last year was how well he pitched with runners on base,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “But they strung together some hits off him with runners on.”

The Twins were 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Garcia and 4-for-10 for the game.

Justin Morneau, Mauer’s partner in the Twins’ M&M tandem, homered off Garcia leading off the sixth. Morneau was robbed of an extra base hit and another RBI in the seventh when Granderson caught up with his long drive in front of the 399-foot sign in left-center after a very lengthy run. The rest of the Yankees’ regulars waited for Grandy in front of the dugout to give him high-fives as he came off the field.

The Yankees are back at .500 at 5-5. They can’t seem to break away from the .500 syndrome. They lost the first three games of the season, then won four in a row, lost to go 4-4, won to go 5-4 and are now 5-5. CC Sabathia, who will start Tuesday night, has not lost to the Twins in his past nine starts against them, including postseason play, and is 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA in that span. The Yankees hope that streak will continue.

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