MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins outplayed the New York Yankees from start to finish, building a big lead and breezing to a decisively satisfying victory.
No, this wasn’t one of those crisp October evenings with a playoff series at stake. Faded from contention this season, the fourth-place Twins probably won’t be able to use this performance as momentum for any achievement that matters.
But for one night, at least, this was a sweet success.
A.J. Burnett failed to finish the second inning, when the Twins scored five times on their way to a 9-4 victory over the Yankees on Saturday.
Jason Kubel had three hits and two RBIs and Danny Valencia homered for the Twins.
“Feels good,” Valencia said. “It’s kind of a long overdue feeling.”
Francisco Liriano (9-9) threw seven stellar innings for the Twins, who played like they were taking a decade’s worth of frustration out against their nemesis. This was just their 20th win in 81 games against the Yankees over the last 10 seasons, including the playoffs.
Burnett (9-10) was the one who was bummed out on this night, though. He shouted a few curse words while leaving the mound, upset at a call that gave Joe Mauer a walk to load the bases.
In the third year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract, Burnett has drawn the ire of Yankees fans for his unreliability and inconsistency. He threw two wild pitches, one that let a run score, and left plenty of others over the plate for the Twins to whack around the ballpark.
“He was misfiring,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We were taking pitches. We weren’t chasing, and that’s what you have to do with him. Make him throw that some pitch. Make him find the strike zone.”
Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe, Joe Mauer and Luke Hughes each had two hits for the Twins, and Revere and Justin Morneau drove in two runs apiece.
Valencia’s first-pitch drive into the bullpen started the second inning, and Revere ripped a line drive up the middle that Burnett could only swat at with his glove before it fell in for an RBI single and a 4-0 advantage for the Twins.
“We did a great job, top to bottom,” Valencia said.
Burnett left the bases loaded for Luis Ayala, who walked Morneau to force in another run and gave up a two-run single to Kubel.
Liriano left with a 9-1 lead, allowing only one unearned run, due to a throwing error by the second baseman Hughes in the third inning.
“That was nice,” Liriano said. “We hadn’t been hitting very well the last couple games.”
The left-hander turned in his best start two months, surrendering three hits and three walks while striking out six. He lowered his ERA from 5.12 to 4.85.
“It’s been a tough year. Been up and down,” Liriano said. “I have to be more consistent.”
NOTES: The Twins are counting on RF Michael Cuddyer to be available to play on Sunday, pending a pregame workout. He has been out this week due to stiffness in his neck. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Cuddyer should be in the lineup on Monday at the latest. … Umpire Brian O’Nora was out due to a personal medical matter, leaving a three-man crew to work the game. … Mauer hit two doubles. … Valencia drove in his 100th career run.
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