Baseball / Sports

Hughes beats former team as Twins take 2 of 3 from Yanks

NEW YORK -- These are not your father's Yankees. David Robertson is where Mariano Rivera used to be. Brian Roberts is where Robinson Cano used to be. Derek Jeter at 39 years old is where Derek Jeter at 35 used to be.

There used to be a sense of bravado, an air of invincibility that hung over Yankee Stadium like an invisible shield. Opponents entered at their own risk, and the Twins have needed tetanus shots after leaving this place in the past.

Things have changed so much that righthander Phil Hughes wasn't even heckled by Yankees fans as he warmed up before Sunday's game. And they had every reason to let him have it because he was 1-10 in the same park a year ago.

"It was kind of an indifferent mix," Hughes said. "They were pretty quiet. I got asked for a ball a couple times."

The edge, the mojo -- the offense -- is not what it used to be here. The Yankees can be had, and the Twins proved that on Sunday with a ninth-inning rally that gave them a 7-2 victory and two of three games in the Bronx.

It's the first time the Twins have won series in New York in consecutive seasons since 2000-01 -- before Ron Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002. And it's the first time the Twins have won back-to-back series here since 1992. Hughes was masterful for eight innings -- his longest outing as a Twin. Eduardo Nunez, who was traded by the Yankees to the Twins on April 7, hit a two-run double.

It was only the third time this season the Twins won a game they trailed after eight innings.

"Everyone kind of jumped on board and things started going your way," Gardenhire said.

Hughes' outing -- he limited the Yankees to two runs, three hits and two walks over eight innings -- kept the score at 2-1 heading into the ninth. Robertson, who is replacing Rivera as closer, entered the game and the Yankees were poised to wrap things up. But Josh Willingham shook up the announced crowd 42,449 when he planted Robertson's first pitch well into the left field bleachers to tie the score. It was Robertson's second blown save of the season.

Kurt Suzuki drew a one-out walk. Aaron Hicks drew a two-out walk. Then Brian Dozier doubled Suzuki home to put the Twins ahead 3-2. Nunez hit Matt Daley's only pitch of the game to right for a two-run double. Oswaldo Arcia added a two-run single off Matt Thornton.

"It started off with Willingham," Gardenhire said. "He leads off with a big home run on the first pitch and gets everyone fired up in the dugout, and it went from there. We had some great at-bats after that."

In addition to winning the series here last year, the Twins split a four-game series in New York in 2012. So the Yankees haven't won a series against the Twins here since 2011.

And the Twins could have swept this series if they had cashed in on a couple of opportunities on Saturday in a 3-1 loss.

Offense remains an issue, though, as the Twins head to Milwaukee for two games and matchups with Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo. In May, the Twins' 92 runs scored were the second-lowest in the majors and their minus-27 run differential was second-worst. They finished 13-16, losing seven games by two runs or fewer -- indicative of how a couple of timely hits would have altered that May record for the better.

"We've been swinging the bats all right," Dozier said. "It's about getting hits with runners in scoring position."

But they do head to Milwaukee with a little mojo of their own after biting the Yankees in the ninth on Sunday.

"That's what we call a snatch," Dozier said. "We came back and got it.''

(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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