MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Twins probably wish the New York Yankees would miss their flight to Minnesota one of these days.
Luke Hughes could tell them all about it.
CC Sabathia stopped his two-start losing streak with nine strikeouts over seven innings, and the Yankees hit three home runs to support him in an 8-4 victory over the depleted Twins on Thursday night.
Already missing Michael Cuddyer (sore neck), Jason Kubel (family issue), Denard Span (migraine symptoms) and Matt Tolbert (sprained wrist), the Twins were forced to use catcher Joe Mauer in right field and start the game without any healthy bench players because Hughes missed his flight to Minnesota. Hughes was rebooked and made it to the ballpark in the first inning. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth.
Hughes was called up from Triple-A Rochester and flew out of the Lehigh Valley airport in Pennsylvania. He was there in plenty of time. The problem was he went to Gate 9B, not Gate 9A. Once he realized he was in the wrong place, he saw his plane pulling out.
``That was pretty disappointing,' Hughes said, adding: ``Something I'm going to never do again.'
He told his taxi driver to go as fast as he could to Target Field and made it in less than a half-hour after landing.
``He got every red light as soon as I got into the city, which was great,' Hughes said, adding: ``I let the team down obviously for being late and stuff like that. ... But, hey, nothing I can do about it now. Just move on.'
The Yankees lead the majors with 163 homers this season, despite only 13 from Alex Rodriguez, who has been out following knee surgery last month. Mark Teixeira hit his 33rd, a two-run shot in the third, and Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones hit back-to-back deep balls in the fifth inning against Brian Duensing (8-12).
Jones sent his into the third deck above left field, an estimated 434 feet.
Duensing yielded 10 hits and six runs, finishing five innings. He struggled with his location and left too many balls up in the strike zone.
``I usually tell myself, `If I don't know where it's going, they don't know where it's going,' but I think they knew where it was going a lot,' he said.
Sabathia (17-7) gave up four runs - three earned - and walked only one. Including postseason games, the Yankees improved to 60-19 against the Twins since 2002 and 20-3 over the last three years. They stayed a half-game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East race.
The Twins, with their patched-together lineup and recent struggles against the burly left-hander, were the right team for him to face. Despite giving up 10 hits for the third time in his last four starts, Sabathia raised his record to 8-0 in his last nine outings - including the postseason - against Minnesota. His ERA in that span is 1.72.
The Twins' outfield of Rene Tosoni, Ben Revere and Mauer has been out-homered by the Yankees' Curtis Granderson this season 34-4.
The Yankees, still stinging from an umpire mistake in Kansas City the night before that gave the home team a home run that should've been a double during a 5-4 victory by the Royals, almost had another long ball call go against them in the first inning.
With Mauer on first base and two outs, Justin Morneau sent one sailing over the seats in right field that was initially ruled a home run. Girardi argued, and a replay review turned it into a foul ball. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out to disagree, and he was quickly ejected.
``In my opinion - and this is what I told `em - if one replay shows it could be fair and one replay shows it could be foul and no one really is positive, how in the hell do you change it?' Gardenhire said. ``I don't get that part.'
Morneau then struck out to end the inning, and boos echoed out from the sellout crowd.
The Twins complained, to no avail, that some angles on the video showed the ball sailing over the top of the pole, which would be fair.
``The only thing I saw was home run,' Morneau said, ``but that's life.'
The Twins expected Kubel back for Friday's game, so they shouldn't be so short-handed.
NOTES: This was the fifth ejection this season for Gardenhire and the 59th of his 10-year career. ... Thome was honored before the game for his 600th career home run, hit earlier this week, with a video tribute and a pregame hug from A-Rod, a fellow member of the club. Thome was joined by his wife, children and father on the field for a rousing ovation from the crowd.
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