Hey gang, I'll be subbing in as your recapper today. Andy Pettitte followed Carl Pavano's lead (!) last night and gave the Yankees their second quality start of the season, while the offense, true to Cliff's game preview, hurt Twins starter Boof "Boof" Bonser with the long ball: Yankees 10, Twins 1.
The game was actually decided in the first inning, when Derek Jeter singled to right and, after Bobby Abreu flied out, Alex Rodriguez stepped in. I'll let Alex Belth, via stoked in-game email, take it from here:
"Boof started A-Rod with a slider (as he did in his second at bat too) and didn't challenge him with the fastball until the count was full. I was at home saying, "Dude, you're not going to try and get that sh** past A Rod, are you?" Sure enough, he came right into A Rod's kitchen. Yo, A Rod just murdalized that ball. Goddamn, that was awesome."
Yes it was. There's actually some difference of opinion as to what kind of pitch it was that A-Rod destroyed; Tyler Kepner agrees it was a fastball, but John Flaherty called it a slider, and Mike Mussina (per Kim Jones) claimed it was a changeup -- after overhearing A-Rod tell reporters that he himself didn't know. What I can tell you with certainty is that it ended up deep in the left field stands. Rodriguez now has six home runs on the season and a 1.107 slugging percentage; this homer, his 470th, tied him with Manny Ramirez, who is three years older. What's changed since last year? His stance? His strategy? His mental health? I say it's the socks.
Those runs were all Pettitte needed, though he eventually got a lot more. He looked sharp throughout, cruising through six shutout innings, changing speeds and using both sides of the plate. He allowed singles to Punto and Mauer to lead off the fourth, but swiftly worked out of it with a double play on Cuddyer and a groundout from Mourneau... and that was about as tense as things got. If there's anything to quibble about, it's that he could have been more economical, since by the end of the sixth he'd already thrown 96 pitches (60 for strikes); but credit the Twins hitters with some patience there, as well as a knack for irritating two-strike fouls.
The Yankee offense, meanwhile, continued on its path to world domination. Melky Cabrera got his groove back, starting with a single up the middle that plated Cano in the second, and finishing the night 3-for-4 with a nifty running, jumping, twisting catch on a Cuddyer line drive in the eighth. In the fifth, Mientkiewicz and Melky were aboard for a booming Johnny Damon home run, his first of the year. Bonser only made a few significant mistakes, but he paid for all of them, and was removed for a string of Twins relievers of varying efficacy.
Later in the fifth, by the way, Rodriguez was intentionally walked for the first time this season; get used to that.
My favorite Twins reliever by far is "Sideshow Pat" Neshek (nickname via awesome Twins blogger Bat Girl), who has a truly odd, jerky, flailing sidearm delivery; at one point his elbows nearly hit each other behind his back, though I can't explain how they get there. Think of a stork being violently tickled, but with much better control. Baseball Think Factory has the visuals and the breakdown.
In the Yankee seventh Torre turned to Scott Proctor, who, with the variety of reliable (knocking on wood) arms in the pen this year, needs a new nickname – Semiweekly Scott? You guys can come up with something, I'm sure. Proctor didn't have it, though, walking Morneau and Hunter to lead off the inning, despite being staked to a then-six-run lead. He did manage two fly-ball outs, but after a broken-bat Jason Kubel single gave the Twins their first and only run, Torre called for Vizcaino.
Finally, Mariano Rivera came in to mop up in the ninth. You know, I realize the guy needed to get some work in, but it seems a little unfair to crush a team 10-1 and then trot out Rivera to top it off, doesn't it? Mo dispatched Morneau and Tyner with a combined three pitches, then used unfortunate pinch-hitter Luis Rodriguez as a guinea pig for his new changeup -- which missed badly, high -- before popping him up. So the change isn't quite ready for prime time yet. Alex Rodriguez, though, definitely was.