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Updated: August 19th, 2011 9:57pm
Twins Daily: Martin's two HRs, Hughes' dominance sink Twins

Twins Daily: Martin's two HRs, Hughes' dominance sink Twins

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- In his first official start of the season, Kevin Slowey was unable to solve Russell Martin, who blasted two home runs as the New York Yankees continued their steady dominance over the Minnesota Twins with an 8-1 victory on Friday night.

The skinny

It looked like the Twins were poised to put up a solid battle when Trevor Plouffe homered to left off Yankees' starter Phil Hughes in the bottom of the first inning.

But as it turned out, that was the only hit the Twins would tally until the eighth inning, and by that time the Pinstripers had already pulled away.

Catcher Russell Martin led the charge for New York with two home runs and three RBIs off Slowey, who left after 5 2/3 innings having allowed six earned runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out four.

The 2-3-4 hitters for New York -- Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira -- went a combined 6-for-13 with two walks, four runs scored and four RBIs.

"It's a tough lineup," Slowey said. "You've got to make good pitches and I didn't make enough good pitches. I left the ball up, and the outs earlier in the game were pretty loud outs -- line drives at guys. I need to make adjustments more quickly and get the ball down."

In what was easily his best start of the season, Hughes went 7 2/3 innings, allowing only one earned run on two hits and three walks while striking out three.

"He used his breaking ball, his fastball was cutting and sinking in, and a nice breaking ball, and we didn't put too many good swings on it," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I'd like to think we've got good enough hitters that can make some adjustments, but he sure ate us up tonight. So tip your hat to him."

Turning point

Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, the Twins were already in serious jeopardy, but a quick two-run rally by the Yankees left no doubt.

Slowey started the sixth by fanning Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez, but Jorge Posada singled to keep the inning alive, and Martin blasted his second homer of the night over the left-field fence to blow the game open, 6-1.

That was it for Slowey, who was replaced on the mound by Anthony Swarzak.

Numbers game

19-61: The Twins' record against the Yankees under Gardenhire.

0: Pitches thrown by Hughes in the seventh inning this season prior to Friday night.

21: Home runs by Plouffe this season between Triple-A and the big leagues.

104: Pitches thrown by Slowey, who will likely be a fixture in the Twins' rotation until the end of the season. "I don't think there's any reason to label anything a lost season," Slowey said. "I guess the season is only a loss if you let it be one, and regardless of how things finish up it won't be a lost season for me. I've had plenty of experiences that I'll take with me regardless of how this season finishes. So obviously I want to finish well."


"My eyes like 'em there. My bad doesn't always like 'em there."
-- Plouffe, talking about the high fastball he smashed into the left field seats.

"Not a good baseball game. Pretty much dominated by Hughes. Two hits up on the board will tell you pretty much what we did."
-- Gardenhire

Health report

• OF Michael Cuddyer (sore neck) said he doesn't expect to land on the disabled list, despite having missed an entire week with herniation in his neck. Cuddyer will take batting practice Saturday and hopes to be available off the bench.

• RHP Scott Baker (elbow) will soon begin a throwing program, according to head athletic trainer Rick McWane.

• 3B Danny Valencia was told he'd need to get wisdom teeth removed. If the procedure is done during the season, Valencia may need to miss a game. Gardenhire said he hopes the third baseman waits until November, if possible.

On deck

The Twins try again to crack the Yankees' headlock on Saturday (6:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when left-hander Francisco Liriano (8-9, 5.12) faces right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.61).

Perhaps the biggest reason for Liriano's struggles is his inability to throw a first-pitch strike -- 50%, in fact, on the season so far. Liriano also leads the major leagues in going 3-0 on opposing hitters -- 47 times, which is 9% of his plate appearances. Needless to say, those trends don't match-up well with the Yankees. Or anybody.

Burnett has struggled plenty this season as well, allowing 22 home runs in 154 1/3 innings. Over his last eight starts, Burnett has allowed exactly three or four earned runs seven times, and he has issued at least three walks in 13 of his 25 starts this season. In his lone start against the Twins on April 7, Burnett allowed two earned runs on five hits in six innings.

Coming up

• Sunday: vs. Yankees, 1:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (7-10, 4.53) vs. RHP Ivan Nova (12-4, 4.12)
• Monday: vs. Orioles, 7:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.52) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (5-16, 4.55)
• Tuesday: vs. Orioles, 7:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (8-12, 4.75) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (3-6 4.68)

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd