MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins had their top two starting pitchers set up to start this series against a sputtering New York Yankees team.
First, Phil Hughes faltered against his former team. Then Kyle Gibson got roughed up. Now, the Yankees are feeling better and the Twins are in quite a funk.
Brian Roberts hit three doubles and a triple, and New York used its bullpen to preserve a 6-5 win over Minnesota on Friday.
David Huff (2-0) struck out three in three perfect innings for the victory after starter Chase Whitley faltered, and Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-run single in the second to help finish off Twins starter Kyle Gibson (7-7).
"He didn't have much. Couldn't get the ball where he wanted to," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Gibson has had quite the thrive-or-dive season. Six of his 17 starts have been scoreless appearances, and he's finished seven innings or more seven times. But this was his fourth turn of three or fewer innings, and he's allowed at least six runs in each of those starts.
The Yankees brought a five-game losing streak and a quiet lineup with them on this road trip, but they have revived their offense against the Twins. Gibson brought the American League's best home-ballpark ERA among qualified pitchers at 1.54, but the Yankees tagged him for six runs over two innings. One was unearned, due to a passed ball by Kurt Suzuki that let Teixeira move up and later score on Carlos Beltran's sacrifice fly in the first, but almost every ball was hit hard.
Brett Gardner led off the game with a triple, Roberts drove him in with a double and Gibson was on his way to that kind of day. He gave up six hits and one walk, without any strikeouts. Mark Teixeira had an RBI double, Brendan Ryan added a sacrifice fly and Gibson left with a 6-1 deficit.
"I just didn't limit the damage. Reminiscent of last year on the Fourth of July," said Gibson, who gave up eight runs in 5 1-3 innings on the holiday here a year ago against the Yankees.
This Independence Day game was preceded by a ceremony for the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's moving farewell address, shortly after he was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological disease that later took his name. Players from both teams read prerecorded portions of the speech.
Brian Dozier led off the first with his 16th homer and Chris Colabello went deep the next inning in his first at-bat since May 23, but the Twins lost for the ninth time in 11 games. Oswaldo Arcia had an RBI triple and scored on Trevor Plouffe's single to pull the Twins within two, but then Huff took charge.
Dellin Betances dodged trouble in the eighth inning after Colabello cut the lead to one with an RBI groundout. Teixeira made a diving stop to his right at first base on Eduardo Escobar's sharp grounder, recovering in time to throw to Betances for the third out with a runner on third.
"Just got to play the game like the scoreboard doesn't matter," Colabello said. "Would have been nice to win the game, but to be able to bounce back and get back into it and give ourselves a chance in the ninth is kind of what it's all about."
Suzuki hit a two-out double in the ninth, but David Robertson struck out Chris Parmelee looking to secure his 20th save.
"We were excited in the dugout. Everybody was hootin' and hollerin' and we felt like we could get back in the game," Gardenhire said. "We kept clawing away. We had it out there, one hit away. It just didn't work out for us."
NOTES: The Twins are expecting prized CF prospect Byron Buxton to return to action soon with Class A Fort Myers. He has missed the majority of the season with an injured wrist. "That'll be a welcome sight for all of us," general manager Terry Ryan said. ... University of Minnesota basketball coach Richard Pitino sat in the first row behind home plate. Having lived in New York as a child when his father coached the Knicks in the NBA, Pitino is a passionate Yankees fan who named his family dog Bernie after former Yankees star Bernie Williams. ... The Twins have played 42 of 85 games during the day this season, the most in the majors.