"I knew last night that I was going to start that sixth inning," Duensing said. "I warmed up as if it were a start. I haven't stretched out like that in awhile, so that was a positive. My job was to go out there and give the team a chance to win, and I made a mistake."
The game had been halted at 8:32 p.m. CT on Tuesday, as a thunderstorm wreaked havoc at Target Field. Following a rain delay of one hour and 23 minutes, which was the first outdoor delay in Minnesota since Sept. 26, 1981, the contest was officially suspended for the night and resumed at 4:05 p.m. on Wednesday ahead of the day's regularly scheduled 6:10 p.m. contest.
Duensing was on the mound for the Twins when play began in the sixth inning on Wednesday, taking over for starter Scott Baker, who had pitched five scoreless innings on Tuesday night before play was halted. Baker allowed three hits and walked one while striking out two over an economical 50 pitches through five innings.
Upon taking over in the sixth, Duensing threw three innings and allowed just the one run on Jeter's homer while scattering two hits. Jesse Crain then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to keep it a one-run game.
But while the Twins managed to hold the Yankees to just one run, the club was unable to take advantage of its offensive opportunities. Minnesota left 10 men on base during the contest, including five over the final four innings.
"We had a couple of chances and we hit the ball on the button," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It just didn't work out."
Jeter helped preserve the 1-0 lead that he had given his club with a defensive gem in the bottom of the sixth. Following a Justin Morneau walk and a Jason Kubel double to right field, the Twins had runners on second and third with two outs. Delmon Young hit a hard grounder to the hole between shortstop and third base off reliever David Robertson, but Jeter fielded it and capped the play with the jump-throw he has perfected over his career, throwing a perfect strike to first base to beat out Young for the inning-ending out.
"He's a great player, and he can do a lot of things," Gardenhire said of Jeter. "He hit the big home run and he made a great defensive play. He's been doing that for a lot of years, and that's why he's been the captain over there for many years."
The sixth inning began quite eventfully for Robertson as well, when Joe Mauer rocketed a ball off the right-hander's rear end that ricocheted to third baseman Alex Rodriguez for a putout.
Although the Twins weren't able to capitalize on Denard Span's two-out single in the seventh inning or Mauer's leadoff hit in the eighth, the club tried to rally for the second time in a little less than two weeks against vaunted Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
Rivera had given up an eighth-inning gram slam to Jason Kubel at Yankee Stadium on May 16 as the Twins ended a 12-game losing streak against these Yankees. But this time, Minnesota wasn't able to get the key hit off Rivera.
J.J. Hardy certainly provided the crowd with some excitement when he hit a 3-2 cutter from Rivera deep to left-center field. But left fielder Kevin Russo caught the ball just before the wall for the out.
"Sure did," Gardenhire said when asked if he thought Hardy's ball was out of the park. "I thought he hit it really hard."
Following Hardy's flyout, pinch-hitter Jim Thome drew a one-out walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Alexi Casilla. But Denard Span ended the game by grounding into a double play.
It was the 10th time in the Twins' past 13 contests with the Yankees that a game had been decided by three runs or fewer.
"They seem to be relentless, but that's why they're world champions," Duensing said. "They're a good team and a good lineup. I feel like we're in it every game, and if we just keep looking their way, we'll eventually get them."
Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett was credited with the win despite the fact that his outing came to an end with the stoppage of play on Tuesday night. Burnett pitched five innings, scattering three hits while walking two and striking out five.