MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -The Yankees left New York last week for a 10-game road trip, clearly aware their streak of 13 straight playoff
appearances was in jeopardy.
After going 3-7, they're stumbling back to the Bronx in even worse shape.
''It's pretty late for us,'' said
, who went 0-for-4 with a pair of popups in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to Minnesota.
hit a three-run homer for the second straight day for the Twins. Meanwhile, the Yankees were sloppy in the field, outpitched
and outhit - problems that kept cropping up in their swing through Texas, Anaheim and the Metrodome.
''We have to play better. I know we played some pretty good teams, but we're going to have to beat the good teams if we're
going to be able to get to the playoffs,'' Damon said.
(9-8) smoothly worked the corners of the strike zone over six strong innings for Minnesota, surrendering three hits, one run
and one walk against a lineup missing
sealed the victory in the ninth with his 32nd save, and the Yankees went 17-for-80 with runners in scoring position on the
While praising Slowey, Damon gave the perfect summary of his team's struggles during this injury-filled, inconsistent season.
''It seemed like he had an easy time with us, and nobody should have an easy time with us,'' Damon said.
The Twins and their overworked bullpen, threatening to negatively affect their own pennant chase, held on. After a run scored
on a wild pitch by
in the eighth,
came in and retired
on a flyout with men on first and third.
That dropped Rodriguez's average with two outs and runners in scoring position to .204 in 49 at-bats.
''There are just so many hitters that can go up there and hit the ball out of the ballpark,'' Minnesota manager
said, ''we just tried to get through it.''
The Twins were reeling from Rodriguez's tiebreaking solo homer in the 12th inning of Tuesday night's 9-6 win by New York.
But with catcher
back in the lineup after night off - he had a stiff neck - the Yankees failed to build any momentum.
Story of their season.
''There's a lot of professionals in here. Everybody's still up. I think we're going to be fine,'' said starter
, who pitched five decent innings except for Young's big hit.
Mauer walked to start the fourth and
followed with a bouncer to third base, and
drew an error for leaving the base to catch Rodriguez's throw. One out later, Young sent a ball soaring over the right-field
wall for his seventh homer and a 3-1 lead against Rasner (5-9).
Rodriguez hit a two-out double and
drove him in with a single, the first time this year Slowey gave up a run in the first inning. He had gone a team-record 18
straight starts without allowing one.
Slowey quickly settled in, though, and retired 12 in a row until
, subbing for Jeter at shortstop, hit a two-out single in the fifth.
drew a one-out walk in the sixth, but Rodriguez was retired on a popup and Abreu was caught stealing to end the inning.
''They're a great team. These are the guys that we grew up watching. I grew up watching
in the World Series and
in the Kingdome,'' Slowey said. ''You certainly kind of take a step back coming into the series and say, 'All right, this
is another game, but it is a little more special.'''
Home plate umpire Mike Winters was hit on the chin by
's foul ball in the bottom of the inning and left the game. Angel Campos moved from first base to replace him after a 10-minute
delay. With 91 pitches, Slowey's afternoon was over.
Job well done against the Yankees, who were literally falling apart at the seams. Giambi was charged with an error at first
base, in the first inning when a low throw from Betemit went through the webbing in his glove. He got a different mitt after
The play was harmless, but fitting.
''Chance to win a series after an emotional win last night and you don't do it, it's not good,'' manager
Notes: Jeter hurt the instep of his foot when he fouled a ball off of it the night before. Girardi said he was very sore,
but available to pinch hit and should be able to return to the lineup on Friday. ... Slowey faced 94 consecutive batters without
issuing a walk until Abreu's in the sixth. ... The Twins are 25-8 at home since June 1. ... Girardi said RHPs
will both make at least one more rehab start in the minors Sunday. ''There's still work to be done,'' Girardi said.
has been slated to start next Tuesday, but his sixth-inning relief appearance ended after 15 pitches due to stiffness in his