Carl Pavano was thoroughly booed by the Yankee Stadium crowd when they announced his name before the game. Although he received a thrashing once again when he walked out from the bullpen, those boos soon turned to cheers as the Yankees offense got to him early. Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson hit back-to-back home runs to start the game, and the Yankees walked out of the first inning with a 3-2 lead.
Then the darndest thing happened: Pavano settled down. He was making his first appearance at Yankee Stadium since April 19, 2009, when he was with the Indians, so early game jitters may have had something to do with his struggles. But once he settled in, he did not let the fact that more than 40,000 Yankee fans had a very long memory.
After the first inning, Pavano pitched six more, allowing only three more hits and not giving up another run.
Derek Jeter, who tagged Pavano for that aforementioned leadoff home run, was extremely impressed with how he was able to regain command of the game.
“We started off well, but after that Carl settled down,” Jeter said in the clubhouse after the game. “He knows how to pitch, that's the bottom line. He mixes it up. He throws his offspeed pitches; he throws his fastball. He doesn't throw too many balls over the middle of the plate. We hit a few balls hard right to some guys, but he's the story of the game.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought Pavano mixed his pitches well after the first, but also said that his team still was hitting the ball hard.
“He seemed to get the ball down and seemed like we hit some balls hard, but they were on the ground, as opposed to the first inning when we got them elevated and that was the big difference,” Girardi said after the game. “I thought he started hitting his spots better.”
For the Twins, they needed Pavano to give them length after a weekend in which they used eight pitchers out of their bullpen.
“We needed innings out there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after the game. “Pavano's the kind of guy that may give it up once or twice, and he may have a rough start, but he's the kind of pitcher that can hang in there, and he did. He made some adjustments.”
Pavano's outing was aided by the reemergence of the M and M boys, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, who are finally healthy and in the lineup together.
Morneau was playing his first game at first base tonight and turned back a couple of years to when he was one of the elite first basemen in the game and a former MVP. Mauer finally looks back to form and with the game tied at three, he ripped an RBI double to give the Twins the lead in the top of the fifth. Morneau followed suit in the top of the sixth with a solo home run, and the Twins never looked back. The M and M boys finished the game a combined 5-for-9, with two runs, two RBIs, two doubles and that Morneau home run.
“I was happy with Morneau at first base, he played nice over there,” Gardenhire said. “I talked to him after the game and he felt good and that's important.”
Gardenhire reiterated how key it was for the Twins to have these guys both healthy.
Girardi was quite impressed with the M and M boys after the game and echoed the sentiments of Gardenhire saying, “You take the heart of an order out of any order and it's going to be tough to score runs. Those guys have been beat up the last couple of years and it's been unfortunate for the Twins, but they seem to be healthy now.”
The Twins may have been 7-33, including the postseason in New York over the last 10 seasons coming into the game, but they get the all important first win of the four-game set out of the way.
“You know what? It's a new season,” Gardenhire said about playing in New York. “So we're 1-0 at Yankee Stadium.”
For one night anyway, behind solid pitching and timely hitting, he's right.