By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
AP Baseball Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Phil Hughes allowed just two hits in 7 2-3
innings and Russell Martin hit two home runs to lead the New York
Yankees to an 8-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Hughes (4-4) gave up one run, walked three and struck out two in
his longest outing of the season. Martin hit a solo homer in the
third and a two-run shot in the sixth, his fourth career multihomer
Mark Teixeira added two hits and three RBIs for the first-place
Kevin Slowey (0-1) gave up six runs on nine hits with four
strikeouts for the Twins.
Trevor Plouffe hit a solo homer in the first inning, but Hughes
put the Twins on ice the rest of the way.
The right-hander retired 14 straight hitters at one point and
continued to mix all of his pitches effectively, something manager
Joe Girardi has been imploring him to do of late.
“If you have weapons, to me there’s no reason to keep them in
your back pocket,” Girardi said before the game. “The best thing
is to go out and use them.”
It was just his 10th start of the season after missing the first
three months with an inflamed right shoulder that caused a drop in
velocity. Slowly but surely, he’s been improving each time out and
making a push for postseason consideration.
With Hughes showing signs of his old self and Alex Rodriguez due
back any day after missing the last month and a half with a knee
injury, things are starting to look up for the Yankees.
Hughes built on his confidence against one of the weakest
lineups in baseball. After giving up the homer to Plouffe in the
first inning, he only allowed one runner past first base, when he
walked two in the seventh.
Luke Hughes had the only other hit of the game for the Twins, a
single in the eighth.
Phil Hughes got plenty of help from his offense, which took a
few innings to get revved up before hammering Slowey.
Martin tied it up in the third and Robinson Cano followed with
an RBI double in the fourth to give the Yankees the lead.
Curtis Granderson’s double hopped over the first base bag in the
fifth to score another run and Derek Jeter’s pretty slide at home
beat Joe Mauer’s tag to make it 4-1.
Martin’s no-doubter in the sixth chased Slowey, who made his
first full start of the season.
After going 13-6 in 2010, the right-hander lost a competition
for the final spot in the rotation out of spring training and then
chafed at being placed in the bullpen. After six appearances, he
went on the disabled list on May 25 with an abdominal injury and
took two months to work his way back.
Slowey started the game on Sunday in Cleveland, but it was
rained out after two innings.
NOTES: The Twins honored closer Joe Nathan before the game for
becoming the franchise’s career saves leader in their last home
game on Aug. 10. … The Twins announced that the game that was
rained out on Sunday at Cleveland will be made up as a day-night
doubleheader on Sept. 24. … New York LHP Pedro Feliciano, on the
disabled list because of a tear in his left shoulder, could pitch
for the first time since spring training next week in a Gulf Coast
League game. The reliever threw 26 pitches in batting practice
Friday at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa. … Yankees
backup INF Ramiro Pena, who had an appendectomy on July 18, is
fielding grounders and may start batting practice next week. …
Francisco Liriano (8-9, 5.12) will take the mound for the Twins on
Saturday against A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.61). Burnett snapped a
seven-start winless skid in his last outing against the Royals,
going 5 2-3 innings and allowing three runs. It was his first
victory since June 29. Liriano has pitched past the sixth inning
just once in his last six starts, going 2-2 with a 6.12 ERA in that
span. … The Yankees announced that RHP Ivan Nova will start the
series finale on Sunday against Nick Blackburn.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)