One week ago, the Yankees were winless in one-run games. After tonight’s wins, their past three victory have been one-run wins.
“If you’re going to win the division,” Mark Teixeira said. “You have to win the close ones.”
There were a lot of stars today, and that includes A.J. Burnett, who didn’t throw a single pitch and still picked up a win.
Target Field has been a tough park for home runs. The Twins have hit 38 homer this season, only 10 of them in their new stadium. The Yankees, though, won today on solo home runs from Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher. Then Mariano Rivera closed out both games for only his second and third saves of the month. All three of those saves, of course, have come in the Yankees three one-run wins.
“I actually thought his stuff was better the second game than in the first game,” Joe Girardi said. “But I won’t make a habit of that.”
Here’s Rivera talking about his day, especially his day compared to his struggles last week. “Everything,” he said. “The ball coming out of my hand. The movement. The location. Everything was better.”
• Andy Pettitte was awesome. Plain and simple. No pitch today was bigger than his eighth-inning cutter to Joe Mauer, getting the MVP to ground into a double play that stranded the go-ahead run at third base. Awesome quote from Pettitte: “It’s a tough situation because he’s such a great hitter. I threw him a ball in the first inning that I didn’t think he could hit and he drives in a run, hit it the other way. You don’t know how he does it. He’s just amazing to watch. He’s like Derek. He can take balls that other hitters can’t handle and hit them the other way.”
• Speaking of Pettitte, he said his changeup was the best it’s been in a long, long time. He was especially happy with his command of the fastball, cutter and change.
• Good line from Swisher about the difficulty of getting a ball out of Target Field: “In this ballpark with the height of the fence, you really have to hit it up in the air. I was talking to a couple of guys on the Twins and they were talking about how balls travel down the line pretty well, but once you get into the gaps, 403 with a 30-foot wall, I’m not going deep over there. It’s not possible for me. I understand that.”
• As early as the seventh inning of the second game, Girardi called down to the bullpen to make sure Rivera knew to be ready. He was going to use him if the Yankees got a lead.
• Finally free to acknowledge the signing of Chad Gaudin, Girardi said he expects Gaudin to move into the long relief role while Sergio Mitre will move into that middle-inning role that Alfredo Aceves filled before he was hurt. Basically, Mitre replaces Aceves, Gaudin replaces Mitre.
• Remember when the Yankees were winning so many games early in the season? A lot of that was due to production at the bottom of the order. Tonight No. 7 hitter Francisco Cervelli walked twice and scored a run, No. 8 hitter Kevin Russo had two hits, an RBI and a run and No. 9 hitter Brett Gardner had a game-tying triple.
• Dave Robertson was hit in the lower back by that first-game line drive. “I probably wouldn’t use him anyway tomorrow because of pitches, but he’s OK,” Girardi said.
• Derek Jeter seems to have found his stroke again, and that includes a home run and a double today. “It’s good to see him get back in his legs,” Girardi said. “I think that’s important when you see him drive the ball like that. That’s a good sign.”
• Juan Miranda pinch hit for Marcus Thames in the second game and positively crushed a ball to center field. “That ball is way out in most stadiums,” Teixeira said.
Associated Press photos of Swisher and Robertson.