The Minnesota Twins pounced on Yankees’ starter A.J. Burnett’s struggles for seven early runs and cruised to an easy 9-4 win over New York on Saturday.
Despite the loss, New York remained a half-game ahead of Boston in the AL East, as the Red Sox lost 9-4 to the Kansas City Royals.
“It’s kind of a long, overdue feeling,” said Twins’ third baseman Danny Valencia, who hit a solo home run to lead off the second inning. “We’ve played these guys tough, but at the same time we’ve come up empty-handed a bunch. So it’s nice to come out and win and win kind of big.”
Already trailing 4-0 in the second inning, Burnett loaded the bases with successive walks, which prompted Yankees manager Joe Girardi to replace his starter, who appeared to voice his displeasure as he left the mound.
“I was not talking to Joe, absolutely not,” said Burnett, who indicated his displeasure was directed toward the umpire’s call on his final pitch. “No matter how mad I get, that guy’s taken my back every day I’ve been here.”
Girardi supported his pitcher.
“Everyone always seems to want to blow up about A.J.,” Girardi said. “Nothing happened between me and A.J. I went and looked at the pitch. And I’m tired of it. I’m tired of people looking for something between me and A.J.”
Reliever Luis Ayala was unable to slow the Twins, as all three base runners left by Burnett scored and stretched the lead to 7-0.
Twins starter Francisco Liriano allowed one run on three hits, while striking out six in seven innings.
TIGERS 10, INDIANS 1
In Detroit, the hosts routed Cleveland to extend their AL Central lead over the Indians to three-and-a-half games.
Brandon Inge, whose 11-year career looked over when he was sent to the minors last month, homered in his return to the Tigers lineup and hit a 400-foot RBI double for his first game with two extra-base hits since this time last year.
Detroit’s Alex Avila, catching his 14th straight game, went 2-2 with three walks. He’s hitting .442 with a .567 on-base percentage this month.
RAYS 8, MARINERS 0
In St Petersburg, Florida, Jeremy Hellickson pitched eight scoreless innings to direct Tampa Bay’s win over Seattle.
Hellickson (11-8) was coming off the shortest start of his 32-game career, a 4-1/3 inning outing against the Yankees.
Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer in the first and finished with four RBIs. He joined Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews as the only major league third basemen to have 20 or more homers in each of their first four seasons.
ATHLETICS 5, BLUE JAYS 1
In Oakland, Gio Gonzalez pitched eight stellar innings for his first win in more than a month, leading Oakland over Toronto.
Gonzalez (10-11) combined with closer Andrew Bailey to retire 25 of the final 27 Toronto batters.
Brandon Allen had two hits and scored the go-ahead run on a double play in the fourth inning, while Josh Willingham homered as part of a three-run eighth for Oakland.
Toronto played without majors-leading home run hitter Jose Bautista, who had a stiff neck.
Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez (0-1) took the loss despite a solid effort.
In other AL action, it was:
‧ Royals 9, Red Sox 4
‧ White Sox 3, Rangers 2
‧ Angels 9, Orioles 8 (12)
AP, ATLANTA, GEORGIA
Atlanta’s Dan Uggla homered twice and drove in three runs as the Braves beat Arizona 8-1 on Saturday, further frustrating the Diamondbacks’ efforts to pull clear in the NL West race.