Curtis Granderson hit three home runs in the first four innings and matched a career high with five hits, leading the New York Yankees to a 7-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.
Granderson homered in each of his first three at-bats, driving in four runs, and helped Phil Hughes overcome a four-run first to secure his first victory of the season.
Mark Teixeira hit his first home run of the year and the Yankees earned a split of the four-game series. The Twins have not won a series in New York since 2001, a year before Ron Gardenhire took over as their manager.
Granderson got two chances to tie the major league record of four homers in a game. In the sixth, he lined a single to right field. In the eighth, with much of the remaining crowd standing, he beat out a dribbler down the first base line. He was then caught stealing.
Granderson homered to right-center in the first inning and hit a soaring, two-run shot into the second deck in right field in the second, both off Anthony Swarzak (0-3).
In the fourth, Granderson hit a line drive to the short right-field porch against Jeff Gray and came out of the dugout for a curtain call. Granderson is first player to hit three homers in a big league game this year.
He became the 12th major leaguer to hit three home runs in the first four innings of a game, according to STATS LLC and the SABR Home Run Log. Alfonso Soriano was the last to do it for the Chicago Cubs on June 8, 2007, against Atlanta.
The three-homer game was the first for a Yankees player since Alex Rodriguez hit three at Kansas City on Aug. 14, 2010. Granderson has 13 career multihomer games. This was his first with more than two home runs.
The Yankees have had 28 three-homer games but only one of four homers, by Lou Gehrig in 1932.
Mariano Rivera, the fifth Yankees pitcher, worked a perfect ninth for his third save of the season and record 606th of his career.
For the third time in this series, the Yankees fell behind in the first. Ryan Doumit hit a two-run single to left that beat the shift. The Twins had loaded the bases on a single, a throwing error by second baseman Eduardo Nunez and a walk.
Danny Valencia then hit a long double to left-center on an 0-2 pitch to make it 4-0.
Teixeira also homered in the first, a two-run shot to almost the same spot near the Yankees bullpen in right-center that Granderson’s drive landed. A notoriously slow starter, Teixeira homered in his 46th at-bat this season.
Derek Jeter had an RBI single in the second for his 3,110th hit, tying him with childhood idol Dave Winfield for 18th on the career list.
Fighting to keep his spot in the rotation with Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda getting closer to being ready to join the team, Hughes (1-2) gave up six runs and six hits – two earned – in 5 1-3 innings.
Swarzak had pitched better than his record suggested, receiving only one run of support in each of his first two starts, but he struggled from the start in this one. He gave up six runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings.
Twins shortstop Jamey Carroll made a diving stab of Jeter’s grounder in the first and an over-the-shoulder, diving catch on Robinson Cano’s pop to shallow left field in the second.
NOTES: The teams combined for 19 runs in the first inning this series. … The Yankees will wear throwback 1912 uniforms for the 100th anniversary of the first game played at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon. New York was the visitor in first game at the ballpark on April 20, 1912, when the team was called the Highlanders. … The Yankees called up RHP Cody Eppley from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to fill Brett Gardner’s spot on the roster. Gardner is on the disabled list with an elbow injury. … Twins CF Denard Span broke his bat tapping it on home plate during his at-bat leading off the game.