Twins-Yankees Preview
Associated Press
April 18, 2012
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Paced by Justin Morneau's continued success in the Bronx, the Minnesota Twins are in position to win their first series in New York in almost 11 years.
The Twins can accomplish that feat with a second straight victory over the Yankees on Thursday night.
Morneau doubled his home run total for the season with two in Wednesday's 6-5 win at Yankee Stadium. The 2006 AL MVP, who did not play in Tuesday's 8-3 loss, also homered in Minnesota's 7-3 victory Monday.
With four home runs in 11 contests, Morneau matched his total over 69 games during a 2011 season that was marred by a concussion and a wrist injury. Including the postseason, Morneau is batting .370 with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs in 29 career games in the Bronx.
"It's been a long road," said Morneau, who was limited to 150 games over the past two seasons. "Not the end -- just the start of more good days to come."
His presence is a big reason the Twins (4-8) have a chance to win their first series in the Bronx since May 8-10, 2001. Minnesota is 9-34 in New York -- including the playoffs -- since Ron Gardenhire became manager in 2002.
Morneau's two hits in six at-bats off scheduled Yankees starter Phil Hughes both left the park.
Hughes (0-2, 9.00 ERA) looks to bounce back after he allowed five of his six runs on two homers over 3 1-3 innings of a 7-1 loss to Los Angeles on Saturday. The right-hander lasted 4 2-3 innings while giving up two runs in a 3-0 loss at Tampa Bay on April 8.
"It's tough," said Hughes, limited to 17 appearances because of arm trouble in 2011. "I came to camp, I felt good with my stuff. We broke camp and things just haven't gone the way I would have liked. But I just have to keep working hard and get things right."
He might have a good chance to turn things around while trying to improve on his 1-0 record and 2.84 ERA in two starts against the Twins, who counter with Anthony Swarzak (0-2, 3.75).
Though the right-hander has lost his first two starts, his teammates have scored one run in each of those contests. Swarzak allowed four runs in seven innings of a 4-1 home loss to Texas on Friday.
"I made some pitches when I needed to but the bottom line is I gave up four earned and we got the loss," Swarzak told the Twins' official website.
He gave up four runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 4-3 loss in his only previous start against the Yankees on July 8, 2009.
Derek Jeter, 3 for 6 against Swarzak, stayed hot with three hits Wednesday -- including a homer -- as the Yankees (6-6) lost for the third time in five contests following a four-game winning streak.
Jeter, batting .389 (21 for 54) with four home runs and 10 RBIs thus far, hit six homers in 2011.
Curtis Granderson, meanwhile, is batting .208 after an 0 for 4 night Wednesday. He's 3 for 4 versus Swarzak.
The Yankees announced that left fielder Brett Gardner will be placed on the disabled list with an elbow injury he apparently suffered in Tuesday's victory. Gardner was batting .321 in nine games.

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