No stopping A-Rod as Yanks stun Twins late
MINNEAPOLIS -- Alex Rodriguez celebrated the fifth three-homer game of his career, including a game-tying drive in the ninth inning, and John Ryan Murphy crushed a go-ahead three-run shot as the Yankees rallied for an 8-5 victory over Glen Perkins and the Twins on Saturday night at Target Field.
Rodriguez hit a solo homer in the fourth and a two-run drive in the seventh off Minnesota starter Tommy Milone before hitting a line drive over the center-field wall on the first pitch he saw from Perkins in the ninth, giving him 23 homers in this improbable comeback campaign.
"I'm working hard. I'm healthy. I'm happy," said Rodriguez, who is two days shy of his 40th birthday. "I'm appreciating everything the game has to offer. Also, we have a really tight-knit family in here. It's a good, special feel that we have. Some people say that life starts at 40. I'll sign up for that right now."
Murphy hit his first homer of the season later in the inning with Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley aboard, giving the Yankees their first lead of the night. It was Perkins' second blown save of the season after he had converted his first 28 opportunities.
"There's no greater feeling than looking in the dugout and seeing your teammates excited about something you just did," Murphy said. "That's the first thing I was looking for when I was rounding first base, looking back in the dugout and checking out what they were doing."
Aaron Hicks and Torii Hunter homered off New York's CC Sabathia, who allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings. Milone allowed four runs over six-plus frames and did not permit a hit until the fourth inning, when Rodriguez launched a tape-measure drive off the facing of the upper deck in left field.
"It comes down to execution, and I think there were five guys tonight that I didn't execute pitches to, and they all got hits," Perkins said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Call him Trey-Rod: Two days shy of his 40th birthday, Rodriguez is showing there is still plenty in his tank, slugging his 21st, 22nd and 23rd homers of the season. Rodriguez's first of the night was estimated at 480 feet by the Twins, which marked his third homer of 450 feet or longer this season. It was Rodriguez's first three-homer game since a contest against the Royals on Aug. 14, 2010, when he went deep off Sean O'Sullivan, Kanekoa Texeira and Greg Holland.
"I haven't done it in a long time," Rodriguez said. "Just to do it before my 40th birthday, to do it on the road and to do it with a big win -- but tonight was about a lot of guys."
Rodriguez became the fifth-oldest fifth player in Major League history to hit three homers in a game, behind Stan Musial (41 years, 229 days), Jason Giambi (40 years, 131 days), Reggie Jackson (40 years, 123 days) and Babe Ruth (40 years, 108 days). More >
Perkins has off night: Perkins began the season a perfect 28-for-28 in save opportunities, but after surrendering Rodriguez's third home run of night, he has now blown two of his last three save chances. Perkins had given up only two home runs all season before Saturday.
"It seemed like to me it was mostly location that was giving him trouble tonight," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You'd see the glove, you'd see the ball go somewhere else and then they'd whack it." More >
Just not 'right': Sabathia's struggles against right-handed hitters this season have been well documented, and though the veteran southpaw hoped to have turned a corner his last time out, Saturday's effort suggested that he is still not there. Sabathia departed with the bases loaded in the sixth, and his line could have been worse if not for Adam Warren, who bailed the big lefty out by striking out Aaron Hicks looking.
"I feel like I know we've got a good offense, and if I can keep us in the game, we've got a good chance of winning," Sabathia said. "Five runs is not good enough, but these guys came through." More >
Twins turn to long ball: A night after hitting four home runs, the Twins hit two more, scoring all five runs via the homer. For the second time in as many games, the Twins took a first-inning lead with a two-run homer. In the third, Hunter widened the team's lead with a three-run drive to pass Kirby Puckett (207) for sixth on the Twins' all-time homers list.
"Seeing that my dad mentored him, it really is pretty cool to have him be the one because he used to take me under his wing when I was going through a lot. Having him pass him, I wouldn't rather have anybody else do it." -- Puckett Jr., on Hunter's milestone home run
The Twins successfully challenged a play in the second inning, as a 58-second replay review overturned a call in which Carlos Beltran had been ruled safe on a ground ball to second base. The replay showed that Beltran's foot hit the first-base bag after Trevor Plouffe received the throw from second baseman Brian Dozier.
The Yankees successfully challenged a call in the ninth inning that allowed Beltran to remain at first base on a fielder's choice. That review took one minute, one second.
Molitor was ejected after the bottom of the sixth inning by home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson for arguing balls and strikes as a result of Hicks' strikeout. It was Molitor's second career ejection as a manager. More >
Yankees: Nathan Eovaldi (9-2, 4.43 ERA) will make his 20th start of the season on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET as the Yankees complete their three-game series with the Twins at Target Field. Eovaldi last pitched on Tuesday vs. Baltimore and took a no-decision, permitting two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He has never faced the Twins.
Twins: Kyle Gibson (8-7, 3.19 ERA) will start Sunday's rubber match against the Yankees. The right-hander gave up six runs against the Angels in his last start, a loss, but he has been the Twins' most consistent starter all season.
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