But he ran into trouble on Friday in the first inning, when he walked Bobby Abreu, the first free pass issued by a Twins pitcher in 151 batters. Abreu came around to score, and Perkins gave up four more earned runs in his four-plus innings. He surrendered 10 hits, walked two and notched no strikeouts for the first time this season.
"He struggled with his command and his fastball all night," said acting manager Scott Ullger, subbing in for Ron Gardenhire, who was at his daughter's high school graduation on Friday. "He left the offspeed pitches up in the strike zone. Against this team, you can't leave that many up in the strike zone -- particularly against left-handed hitters -- and he got hurt."
Seven of the 10 hits Perkins gave up were on offspeed pitches, and seven of the 10 were also two-strike hits.
"Those are pitches that, if I make good pitches, they're not going to be hits," Perkins said. "They're going to get out on those. That's just the way the ball bounced tonight, and I didn't execute and that's what happens."
The game was a study in the difference between an experienced and inexperienced starting pitcher.
Yankees starter Mike Mussina, who has 17 years under his belt, was able to turn around a rocky first inning, eventually going six frames and giving up just two earned runs.
"I think we had a good plan," Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "We had a good approach up there against him. We hit some balls hard. Just after that first inning, we couldn't push any across the plate. That's why he is who he is. He's a good pitcher and he can make you work."
The Twins' four runs (two unearned) gave them a three-run lead in the first, before Mussina shut them out for the next five frames.
"We were trying to guess along with him, and he seemed to be on the other side of the plate -- whenever we were looking for in, he was away, whenever we were looking for away, he was in," Ullger said of Mussina. "He jammed a lot of guys, he broke a lot of bats. That's pitching, that's what it's all about -- young pitchers should take notice of that."
Perkins admitted that the game was a struggle for him from the first inning on, just not being able to flip the switch that Mussina could.
"He's a veteran guy," Perkins said. "He made those adjustments he had to make and turned it into a quality start. That's frustrating when we get four runs in the first and not be able to hold it down. I've been pitching good, and I felt like I could get by. I just couldn't put the ball where I wanted to tonight."
The Twins were able to manufacture their first-inning runs with three straight RBI singles from Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young and an RBI groundout by Mike Lamb. But aside from Justin Morneau's solo home run in the eighth inning, their offense was stifled.
Minnesota had seven baserunners in the first, but it could only manage five in the following eight innings.
"We came up with some singles, we just needed one ball to maybe reach the gap and maybe clear the bases," Ullger said. "But Derek Jeter made a nice play on Lamb to maybe save a run, and like I said, we came up with some singles, we just couldn't put them away with a big hit."