"I'm sure they were [eager to see us]," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the Twins. "Those were great games that we had. Very close, very tight. It was just two teams playing very good baseball, and we were fortunate to come out on top."
The Twins indeed felt they had played good baseball during that first series despite losing all four. Unfortunately, they couldn't reproduce that kind of play on this night.
A rough outing by starter Scott Baker got things started off on the wrong foot for Minnesota and it unraveled over the rest of the night as the Yankees used a five-run sixth inning to carry them to the blowout.
The Twins used a total of three pitchers in the contest -- Baker and relievers Brian Duensing and R.A. Dickey -- and they combined to throw a total of 194 pitches, giving up 16 hits and issuing seven walks.
It resulted in a three-plus-hour affair between the two clubs. The slow-paced slugfest for New York made it difficult for the Twins offense to get anything going, though left-hander CC Sabathia didn't help that either.
"I looked up at one point, and it was two hours and 20 minutes into the game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "and I thought that they had hit for two hours -- maybe more like two hours and 15 minutes -- and we hit for five. That's not good."
Baker entered the contest with a 2-0 record and 1.50 ERA in two career starts against the Yankees, but this time he was defeated by a series of broken-bat hits, bloopers and an inability to put hitters away. The right-hander allowed five runs on nine hits in three-plus innings as his pitch count soared to 86 in his shortest outing of the season.
"It was just one of those nights," Baker said. "I made some good pitches, and those guys are obviously quality hitters and they hit some good pitches. At the same time, I basically wasn't sharp enough to where I was putting guys away effectively."
Things went south early for Baker (6-7). He tossed 57 pitches in his first two innings as he put Minnesota in a 3-0 hole.
The right-hander got through the third relatively easy, but loaded the bases without recording an out to start the fourth. He gave up a leadoff single to Francisco Cervelli and then walked the next two batters, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon.
"He's got to be better than that," Gardenhire said of Baker. "I think he knows that, too. He's been around long enough and been throwing the ball good enough to be able to make some in-game adjustments, and tonight it just didn't happen for him."
Duensing didn't fare much better as he took over for Baker in the fourth. The left-hander gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings, and Dickey allowed one in his 3 1/3 frames of work.
One of the lone highlights for the Twins on the night came during that fourth inning right after Baker had departed.
Alex Rodriguez, the second batter to face Duensing, hit a ball to deep center field with one out and the bases still loaded. Gomez backed up to the warning track and then leapt a few feet off the ground with his left arm fully extended to make the catch. So a potential grand slam by Rodriguez turned into a very long sac fly.
At the time, the catch seemed big in that it allowed only one run to score and had the Twins trailing just 4-1. But Duensing walked the next two batters to score another run, and it turned into a rough night for the bullpen as well.
While the Twins' pitching struggled, Sabathia rebounded from his roughest outing of the season -- of course, it couldn't have hurt that he was facing a very familiar team.
Sabathia might be donning a new uniform from the last time he faced the Twins, but his performance was more of the same. The former Indians ace delivered his sixth win in his past seven starts at the Metrodome, having allowed just 10 runs over 53 innings in that stretch.
In his latest start inside the Dome, Sabathia (8-5) held the Twins to just the one run on three hits.
"They got up so early. It was almost like snatching your heart out," Span said. "So many runs, you could tell he just got confident. I think he knew we were taking strike one. He'd get ahead of us. Once he got ahead of us, it was kind of hard to put aggressive swings on it."
Sabathia held All-Stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau hitless, as both went 0-for-3. Mauer fell two plate appearances shy of qualifying for the league leaders, needing five PAs on Tuesday night to reach the number. Mauer will now need five plate appearances in Wednesday's contest to reach the qualifying mark.