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Robinson Cano, Ronnier Mustelier both drive in two as Yankees top Twins, 9-7

Ivan Nova allows five runs in 5.1 innings, says he's 'not happy' with line
03/22/2013 4:25 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Robinson Cano had a double, a sac fly, and two RBI in Friday's Yankees win. (AP)
Ivan Nova said after the game that he was “not happy" with his performance on Friday afternoon, but the Yankees offense had his back with a four-run eighth inning that pushed the Bombers past the Twins, 9-7, in Fort Myers, Fla.

Not quite 18 hours after watching fellow fifth starter candidate David Phelps give up five runs in 3.2 innings to the Twins, Nova took the hill in Fort Myers and allowed five runs (four earned) over 5.1 innings, three of which came in a second inning that saw Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit hit back-to-back solo homers.

Nova’s unearned run came in the fourth, as first baseman Juan Rivera’s throwing error with two outs allowed Ryan Doumit to score, and the Twins’ fifth run came after Nova was gone in the sixth, courtesy of Ray Olmedo’s sac fly that scored Ryan Doumit (who had singled off Nova right before the righty’s departure).

However, throughout all that, Minnesota held a lead only briefly early on, as a Yankees offense that was held to just one hit by three Twins pitchers on Thursday jumped on Friday starter Vance Worley early and often.

They matched their hit total in just one batter, as Eduardo Nunez singled to lead off the game, and then promptly stole second; Corban Joseph, who replaced the scratched Brennan Boesch in the No. 2 hole, advanced Nunez to third on a groundout, and Robinson Cano then hit a sac fly to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

In the second, Chris Stewart added the second run when he reached on an error, moved to third on Thomas Neal’s double, and scored on an RBI groundout by Melky Mesa; then, in the third, after Minnesota had taken a 3-2 lead, the Bombers quickly got two back when Nunez singled, Joseph tripled, and Cano doubled before Worley could record an out.

The Yankees added another in the fifth when Rivera’s RBI single scored Joseph, but it would be the four-run outburst in the eighth that provided the difference.

Reegie Corona, who was pinch-hitting for Cano, started the rally by walking, stealing second, and then scoring on Ben Francisco’s one-out single. Chris Stewart then laced a double to left that scored Francisco, but the catcher was thrown out trying to stretch it to third, giving the Twins two outs and looking like it would get Tyler Robertson out of too much trouble.

That wasn’t the case, though, as Neal and Mesa hit back-to-back singles, and Ronnier Mustelier followed with a double that chased both men home and gave the Yankees a 9-5 lead.

From there, the bullpen would hold on, as Brandon Pinder allowed an unearned run in the eighth – a tally set up when Dan Johnson’s error at first base allowed Olmedo to reach – and Kelvin Perez retired three straight in the ninth after surrendering a leadoff solo homer.

Offensively, the Yankees ended up with 14 hits, with Mustelier going 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and the hitters in the top three slots – Nunez/Gil Velazquez, Joseph, and Cano/Corona – going a combined 5-for-12 with a walk, 3 RBI, and five runs scored.

On the mound behind Nova, Miller technically recorded a blown save but also got the win, with his final line being one hit and one walk allowed with one strikeout in 1 2/3 innings; Pinder was charged with the unearned run on two hits in his eighth, and Perez allowed just the solo homer in closing it out.

With the win, the Yankees improve to 11-16 in Grapefruit League play, and they will wrap up a two-game road stretch when they face the Tigers on Saturday afternoon in Lakeland.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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