Three HRs, sharp Nolasco lift Twins over Yanks
Arcia, Willingham, Plouffe go yard; righty earns first win since April 24
NEW YORK -- After a rough stretch that the saw the Twins drop six of seven, Yankee Stadium was about the last place they wanted to head to try to get back on track.
It's been a tough place for the Twins to play in recent years, as they entered Friday's series opener with just a 9-26 record in New York dating back to the beginning of the 2009 season.
But the Twins received a strong start from Ricky Nolasco, while Oswaldo Arcia, Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe homered to power the Twins to a 6-1 win over the Yankees. It marked the first time the Twins scored more than five runs in a game since May 13.
"It's a good team and a tough place to come in and win," Plouffe said. "We had a rough week. But that's going to happen during the season. It didn't weigh too heavily on us. Obviously, you want to win those games against good teams, but you have streaks like that. So it's about bouncing back, and we've shown we're capable of doing that."
Nolasco also bounced back to register his first quality start since May 13, as the right-hander surrendered just one run on seven hits and four walks over six innings. It was the first win since April 24 for Nolasco, who threw 107 pitches.
"It all starts with your starting pitcher and Ricky gave us a good opportunity," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He threw six hard innings, because it's never easy here with these guys. But he got through it and made pitches when he had to."
Nolasco was helped by a rare display of power from the Twins, who hit three homers for the first time this season, with all of them coming against Yankees left-hander Vidal Nuno. It was a good sign for the Twins, who saw Willingham and Arcia rejoin the lineup on Monday after they both missed nearly two months with wrist injuries.
"That's a big part of it -- having those guys healthy and in the lineup," Plouffe said. "We know Hammer can do it consistently and Arcia has shown he's a guy who can do it. So it's good to have them back."
Arcia was the first to go deep with a solo shot in the second inning on an 0-2 fastball from Nuno. The homer ended up in the second deck in right field and was his second of the season.
"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, but today I left them a little bit up, and they took advantage of it."
Willingham was the next to go deep with a no-doubter to open the fourth. It was the second homer in as many games for Willingham, who connected on a 1-2 fastball to give the Twins the lead. The next batter, Arcia, singled, and then Plouffe delivered a two-run blast to center field to pad Minnesota's lead. Plouffes's homer also came on a fastball, and it was his fifth of the season.
"We had some big at-bats and some big homers," Gardenhire said. "Arcia with a big home run and then Willingham and Plouffe. So some balls in the seats."
The Yankees scored their lone run against Nolasco in the third inning on a two-out double from Jacoby Ellsbury to plate Brett Gardner.
But New York made several outs on the basepaths, including Brian Roberts getting picked off at first base in the second after he led off the inning with a single.
It was more egregious in the fifth, when Derek Jeter singled to right field with Gardner at second base. Gardner stopped at third on the throw home from Arcia, but Jeter was caught in a rundown between first and second after second baseman Brian Dozier covered first, leading to Gardner getting thrown out in a rundown of his own between third and home. Jeter advanced to third on the play, but was stranded there when Ellsbury popped out to third to end the inning.
The Yankees made another out at home in the sixth, as Yangervis Solarte singled to right field with two outs, but Roberts was thrown out at home on a strong throw from Arcia while trying to score from second.
"We had some heads-up plays," Nolasco said. "Arcia made some good throws. And Kurt [Suzuki] made a good throw behind Jeter there, and it was key for Dozier to be there."
The Twins added two insurance runs in the eighth with Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez lacing back-to-back RBI singles with two outs against reliever Preston Claiborne.
"We had some big hits late to add on, which is always important in this ballpark," Gardenhire said. "You have to give yourself some breathing room, because this team can always do things late."
Relievers Caleb Thielbar, Casey Fien and Glen Perkins combined to hold the Yankees scoreless over the final three innings to preserve Minnesota's rare victory in New York.
"It's a tough place to play," Willingham said. "They're tough at home and always have been. It was good to get out to a lead. Ricky did his thing and we added on late."