Phil Hughes was cruising along up 3-1 and the New York Yankees were poised to take a 2 1/2 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. But Hughes lost control in the seventh inning and Boone Logan coughed up the lead as the Yanks lost a tough one to the Minnesota Twins 5-4.
Through six innings Hughes had only thrown 73 pitches allowing one run on a double which was truly a single misplayed by Raul Ibanez in left field. He had given up just four hits and no walks.
The Yankees had opened a the two-run lead on Nick Swisher’s 24th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth. It was Swisher’s third homer in the last three games. Russell Martin blasted his 19th home run of the season in the seventh.
In the bottom half of the inning, things began to go south for Hughes and manager Joe Girardi felt as though his right-hander was finished after loading the bases with two outs. Left-handed hitting Denard Span was due up and Girardi went to his lefty reliever Logan.
Logan’s first pitch was in the dirt and got through Martin’s legs allowing a run to score. On a 3-2 count Logan’s slider was not down enough and Span dropped it into the gap in center field putting the Twins up 4-3. Joe Mauer, another lefty bat, singled next to plate Span and the Yankees hopes of widening their lead in the AL East vanished. The Orioles had been shutout by the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the night.
The Bombers went quietly in the eighth and received a pinch-hit solo homer from Andruw Jones in the ninth, but Minnesota closer Glen Perkins shook it off and sealed the deal striking out Jayson Nix for the final out of the game.
The Yankees (89-65) will look to CC Sabathia this afternoon in the rubber match. Sabathia (13-6, 3.47 ERA) is coming off an excellent performance in which he struck out 11 batters and dispelled the notion that he had velocity issues for the time being. He’ll face Samuel Deduno (6-5, 4.54 ERA) who is coming off the worst outing of his career in which he allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.