Win gets away from Twins in ninth
Nathan lets Yankees rally for walk-off victory
NEW YORK -- The Twins don't have many positive memories of the old Yankee Stadium.The Twins posted a 3-19 record at the historic park since the start of the 2002 season, so it's no surprise they weren't too sad to see the Yankees move across the street this season to a new venue. And for eight innings on Friday night, it appeared as though the Twins would make their debut at the new Yankee Stadium one they'd want to remember. Unfortunately, it seems that some of the old ghosts have lodged somewhere in this building, too. The Yankees staged one of their typical late-inning comeback efforts in the ninth inning, scoring three runs off closer Joe Nathan and stunning the Twins with a 5-4 loss. "We know how the Yankees make comebacks late, and you've just got to battle through them," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We weathered a couple and just couldn't get through the final one." A triple to right-center field, a roller up the middle that just found a hole and a hit falling in between the two outfielders with the most range on the team all added up to a rally that seemed unlikely with Minnesota's All-Star closer on the mound. The Twins headed into the ninth with a 4-2 lead, but pitching in his fourth straight game, Nathan fell behind the first batter he faced, Brett Gardner. After hitting an inside-the-park home run off Jesse Crain in the seventh inning to pull the Yankees within two, Gardner once again came up with a big hit. This time, it was his slicer to right-center field on a 3-2 pitch that turned into a triple and put the tying run at the plate as Mark Teixeira came up to bat. Nathan got Teixeira to roll over on a ball, but with second baseman Matt Tolbert playing for a pull, the roller up the middle bounced just over his glove for an RBI single, and the lead was cut to one. Following a walk to Alex Rodriguez, it looked as though Nathan was in a jam, with runners on first and second. But he struck out Hideki Matsui, then got the second out of the inning when Justin Morneau saved a hit with a diving snag and flip to the pitcher at first. "After the way the inning started, to get two outs and a chance to still win this game, I thought we had a pretty good shot," Nathan said. "I still knew I had a lot of work to do." On deck for the Yankees was Robinson Cano, but Nathan chose to intentionally walk him to get to Melky Cabrera. And on the first-pitch fastball, Cabrera hit a flare off the end of his bat into left-center field that fell between left fielder Denard Span and center fielder Carlos Gomez, who were charging in on the play. "He reached out first pitch and flipped it out there," Gardenhire said. "And when it lands between those two guys, you did something good. Those two guys cover a lot of ground." "I felt like we played a good game, the whole game," Span said. "To see it end up the way it did, that's a tough one to swallow." For Nathan, it was just his second blown save in eight opportunities this season and his first loss. "I just have to treat this as it was," Nathan said. "I made good pitches. I don't think really anybody will say they squared a ball up today. They found holes and did what they had to do to win a game." The rally came after some tension erupted between the two clubs in the eighth. Gomez laid down a bunt that Yankees catcher Kevin Cash fielded. The throw beat Gomez to the bag, but Teixeira started yelling at the outfielder for running too far inside the baseline. Teixeira said that it was the second time in the contest Gomez had done that, and the two -- and their respective managers -- started exchanging words. Before the late drama, the Twins had managed to carry that 4-2 lead into the ninth despite some control issues by Francisco Liriano. The southpaw issued a career-high six walks in his six innings but worked his way out of jams and held the Yankees to one run -- Derek Jeter's solo homer in the fifth. Morneau rang in his 28th birthday by blasting two solo home runs, one in the second inning and another in the fifth. It marked his 10th career multi-homer game and brought his total this season to 11. Joe Mauer added a solo homer in the seventh inning for his fifth of the season, but in the end, the power show just wouldn't be enough for Minnesota, as it walked away with yet another loss in New York. "[The new stadium is] a beautiful place, but unfortunately, the results are the same for our ballclub right now," Gardenhire said. "We've got to try to fix that."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.