MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Derek Jeter walked through the dugout past Joe Girardi’s pregame media briefing and mockingly asked his manager, “Joe, have you hit the panic button yet?”
No, Girardi had not, he replied. With Jeter still leading the lineup and anchoring the infield, well, why would he?
Jeter homered and made a highlight-reel play at shortstop in the sixth inning to lift the New York Yankees to a 1-0 victory Wednesday over the Minnesota Twins in the completion of a game halted by rain the night before.
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The Yankees and Twins had to push pause Tuesday after a thunderstorm forced an 83-minute delay and then suspension of a scoreless game after the fifth. Jeter forcefully hit the resume button in the top of the sixth, driving a 1-1 changeup from Brian Duensing (2-1) an estimated 414 feet into the hard-to-reach bullpen area behind left-center field.
Then in the bottom of the inning, after David Robertson walked Justin Morneau and gave up a two-out double to Jason Kubel, Jeter saved at least one run — if not two — by going to his right and back-handing a grounder hit by Delmon Young.
“It’s not that that play is a given,” Jeter said. “I think a lot of people think that’s an easy play to make.”
Jeter used a crow hop to make yet another perfect jump throw to first base for the inning-ending out.
“He’s made that as well as anyone I’ve ever seen,” Girardi said.
Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: “That’s why he’s been the captain over there for a long time.”
The regularly scheduled matchup was still on tap for Wednesday night, starting about a half-hour after completion of the pitching duel started by A.J. Burnett and Scott Baker the previous night and picked up by the bullpens for both teams in the late-afternoon sun.
Let’s play 1? Well, this wasn’t exactly what Ernie Banks had in mind.
It worked out well for Burnett (5-2), who picked up a needed victory. The Yankees had lost six of their previous eight games before this series.
“He owes me, I guess,” Jeter said.
This was an unusual day, beginning without a national anthem with Target Field less than a quarter full. Fans who had tickets to Tuesday night’s game weren’t allowed to return, so those with seats for Wednesday night’s game took in some bonus baseball.
Mariano Rivera pitched a hitless ninth inning for his ninth save, making up for his only blown chance of the season 10 days ago when Kubel’s eighth-inning grand slam at Yankee Stadium fueled the Twins to a rare victory over their American League nemesis.
J.J. Hardy led off the ninth by hitting a fly ball to left-center that reached the warning track, and pinch-hitter Jim Thome drew a one-out walk. But Denard Span ended the game by grounding into a double play.
The Twins, who stranded 10 runners, thought Hardy’s fly was gone.
“I didn’t hit that many in batting practice, so I didn’t know how well the ball carries,” Jeter said.
Duensing allowed just his second run since April 16, a span of 15 appearances and 15 innings.
“They seem to be relentless. That’s why they’re world champions,” Duensing said, adding: “I feel like we’re always in every game. Keep plugging away, I think we’ll eventually get ’em.”
NOTES: Joe Mauer hit David Robertson with a line drive in the lower back to start the sixth, but the ball bounced to Alex Rodriguez at 3B for the out. Robertson remained in the game, and Girardi said he’d be all right. … Former New York City mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani took in the games from a seat behind the plate. He and Gardenhire were two of the featured guests at a motivational business seminar held across the street at a packed Target Center arena. “Not counting arguing with umpires in front of 40,000? I would say that one right there is probably the biggest crowd I had a chance to talk to,” Gardenhire said. … RH Alfredo Aceves won’t be back in the Yankees bullpen anytime soon. Placed on the DL two weeks ago, Aceves is rehabilitating a disk problem in his back. “The fact that he’s not throwing for awhile clues us in that it’s not going to be right away,” Girardi said. … RH reliever Clay Condrey, who has yet to pitch for the Twins, has three options for his ailing elbow: keep trying to throw through the inflammation, receive a cortisone injection, or shut down his arm for two months.