By: Dan Cole | KFAN.com
Samuel Deduno’s 30th birthday performance began in a celebratory fashion. He induced ground balls from each of the first nine Yankee batters he faced, gliding through the first three innings on 41 pitches and allowing no one to reach base.
His dominance would come to an end in the fifth inning, however, when the Yankees got their bats going just enough to carry themselves to a 7-3 victory at Target Field on Tuesday night.
The Twins led 1-0 after three innings, jumping ahead on a Joe Mauer RBI single that scored Aaron Hicks, who was playing in his first game back from a 19-game absence.
Hicks replaced Josh Willingham, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. It was announced Tuesday night after the game that Willingham will undergo arthroscopic surgery on the knee on Wednesday. His expected timetable for return is four to six weeks.
Hicks filled in nicely in Willingham’s stead on Tuesday, doubling off the right field fence in the bottom of the third and coming around to score on Mauer’s single.
The single broke a 0-for-18 stretch for Mauer, who was 1-for-4 on the night. Hicks added an infield single in the bottom of the ninth and came around to score his second run of the game.
“He’s fine, he’s running around okay,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire of Hicks. “I like the way he was running the bases there at the end when he scored, he was flying. That tells me his legs are okay.”
In the fifth inning, the Yankees broke through on Deduno for three runs on four hits – a double from Alberto Gonzalez and a single from Ichiro Suzuki drove in the runs. Deduno threw 26 pitches in the fifth inning alone after throwing just 41 in the first three combined.
He showed a lapse in composure after fumbling a Suzuki dribbler down the first base line and allowing the third run of the inning to score.
Deduno would recover and go on to record his fifth quality starting of the season, allowing three earned runs on five hits in six innings of work. He received the loss on the night, moving his record to 4-3 this season.
“I feel pretty good, I just let it go in the fifth inning but I feel pretty good,” Deduno said. “The sinker and the curveball were pretty good. A lot of groundballs and that was good.”
The Twins, who had been hitting .328 with runners in scoring position in their previous eight games, were just 2-for-10 in such scenarios on Tuesday night. This included a strikeout-strikeout-groundout display with runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“Unfortunately we missed our opportunities,” Gardenhire said. “We had second and third with no outs and didn’t get one in. You need to put a ball in play there and we didn’t get that in the first two hitters. It kind of took the wind out of us.”
Just as it had the previous two games, the Twins bullpen struggled in the later innings. Anthony Swarzak replaced Deduno in the seventh inning and allowed four earned runs in that inning, the biggest blow coming off a three-run homer by Robinson Cano, already his third home run of the series.
The Twins added two runs in the bottom of the ninth off a Brian Dozier double to left field.
The series will continue on Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. when P.J. Walters and C.C. Sabathia will faceoff at Target Field.