Nuno falters early, but miscues on bases sting Yanks
Lefty settles down to go 6 2/3 innings after giving up three home runs
NEW YORK -- The stop sign went up and Brett Gardner obediently skidded to a halt near third base, watching the throw sail home from right field. In a rare baserunning miscue, Derek Jeter assumed the play would be at the plate, and it was too late for him to scramble back to safety.
That was how it went on Friday for the Yankees, who kept getting tangled up on the basepaths as their rallies fizzled out. Oswaldo Arcia hit one of three homers off Vidal Nuno and muscled up for a pair of key throws from right field, helping Minnesota to a 6-1 victory at Yankee Stadium.
"It just wasn't our night," Gardner said. "We didn't pitch well, we didn't hit particularly well, and we got beat."
Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe also cleared the fences with no-doubt blasts off of Nuno, who served up a career-high three long balls, but salvaged his evening by pitching into the seventh inning, waiting for run support that never arrived.
"These are big league hitters," Nuno said. "If they connect with the fastball, it could go a long way or it could be a quick out. Today I left them a little bit up and they took advantage of it."
The Yankees managed one run in six innings off Twins starter Ricky Nolasco, who scattered seven hits to log his first victory in more than a month. He was helped by a second-inning pickoff that erased Brian Roberts, plus Arcia cutting down two potential runs from the outfield.
"It seemed like we were a little flat offensively and didn't have the big inning we were looking for," said Gardner, who scored on Jacoby Ellsbury's third-inning double.
In the fifth, Jeter singled to right field with Gardner aboard, and Arcia fired a strike to home plate. Under orders from third-base coach Rob Thomson, Gardner held, but Jeter was trapped after rounding first base too widely -- unaware that Twins second baseman Brian Dozier snuck in behind him.
"It's my job in that situation. If you think there's a play at the plate, you've got to go and try to go to second base to trade an out for a run," Jeter said. "Gardy wasn't going, so it's not my job to think what's going to happen. I've got to make sure he's going. Good play by them, but I assumed he was going. I shouldn't assume."
Gardner was eventually tagged out in a 9-2-4-2-5-2 rundown as Jeter advanced to third base; he was stranded there when Ellsbury fouled out to end the inning.
"It's just a bad read," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's going to happen from time to time. These guys aren't going to be perfect in their judgment. It's a heads-up play on their second baseman's part to sneak behind the runner, but you won't see Derek do that very often."
For what it's worth, Gardner thought that Thomson was correct to hold him at third base.
"I didn't have the greatest jump," Gardner said. "I knew [Arcia] was playing a little shallow, and I wanted to make sure he didn't catch the ball and I'd get doubled off second, so I wasn't surprised that Thoms held me up. It was the right call, for sure. I would've been out by a little bit."
Arcia was back at it in the sixth, when Thomson waved Roberts home on a Yangervis Solarte single. Arcia's throw beat Roberts to the plate, and catcher Kurt Suzuki slapped the tag on the sliding runner's shoulder.
"[Arcia] made some nice plays, with some nice, accurate throws with something on it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had a nice throw to home to plate to shut down the run there."
Nuno has struggled at home this season, pitching to a 7.94 ERA in the Bronx compared to a 1.86 mark on the road. Arcia started things with a solo blast into the second deck in right field in the second inning, pouncing on an 0-2, 89-mph fastball that Nuno left over the heart of the plate.
In the fourth, Willingham reached the left-field bullpen with a solo shot, and Plouffe deposited a two-run blast into Monument Park. Nuno completed 6 2/3 innings, scattering seven hits, walking none and striking out six.
"At times, his stuff was pretty decent, but when he made a mistake, they hit it out of the park," Girardi said.
The Minnesota bullpen trio of Caleb Thielbar, Casey Fien and Glen Perkins combined for three innings of scoreless relief, and the Twins added a pair of runs in the eighth off Preston Claiborne on RBI singles by Suzuki and former Yankee Eduardo Nunez.
"You just come back tomorrow and hopefully we can start swinging the bats a little bit better, and scoring some runs," Jeter said. "It's obviously a lot easier on the pitching staff if we score."