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Yankees' mastery of Twins gives Torre 700th win

SportsLine.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Torre's day ended better than it started.

Torre became the fifth New York Yankees manager to win 700 games as his team beat Minnesota 8-2 Sunday for its 12th straight win over the Twins .

Torre, hired by team owner George Steinbrenner after the 1995 season, joins a list that includes Joe McCarthy (1,460), Casey Stengel (1,149), Miller Huggins (1,067) and Ralph Houk (944).

"Here I am having the greatest time of my life," Torre said after the game.

A few hours earlier, he didn't sound happy after he learned Steinbrenner overrode his decision to send pitcher Jose Contreras to Triple-A Columbus and instead ordered the struggling right-hander to report to the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.

"My problem yesterday is that I sat in my room with this young man, told him where he was going," a puzzled Torre said before the game. "Turns out, I'm the liar there. That, I'm not crazy about."

But Torre felt better after watching his team dominate Minnesota, which has lost three straight and closes out its four-game homestand against the Yankees on Monday.

Mike Mussina, who improved to 20-2 against the Twins, pitched seven strong innings, and Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams each homered to lead the Yankees, whose 15-3 start is the best in team history.

Asked if the game helped take his mind off the Contreras issue, Torre nodded and said: "The game is always a priority."

Mussina (4-0) allowed five hits while the Yankees got a three-run homer in the first inning from Giambi and a solo shot in the third from Williams. Giambi's homer was his first since the opening week of the season.

"That was huge for him," Torre said. "He's been pretty dry, and I know it's been bothering him. I know it was important for him."

Giambi's shot came after Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson opened the games with singles off Kyle Lohse. Giambi, hitless in 11 at-bats and in a 2-for-21 slide, hit a 3-1 pitch for his fourth homer, his first since April 4 at Tampa Bay.

"With Torii (Hunter) out there, I wanted to make sure I hit it out of his reach," Giambi said of the Twins' All-Star center fielder.

Overall, Giambi swung the bat well. He hit a hard line drive in the third inning that would've been a hit had it not been for slick-fielding first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz.

"I worked on cleaning up my bat path through the strike zone, and I started to hit the ball better," Giambi said. "The guys around me have been swinging the bat well, so it feels good for me to get going a little bit too."

Williams, who homered in Saturday night's 4-2 win, had a ground-rule double in a three-run fifth inning. Hideki Matsui entered as a pinch runner in the sixth and added an RBI ground-rule double in the seventh that made it 8-1.

Lohse (2-2) lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs and 10 hits.

"The were all over my hard stuff early in the count," Lohse said. "They're a good-hitting team and they showed it again today."

Mussina struck out eight -- including Jacque Jones three times and Hunter twice -- and improved to 4-0 for the second time in his career. He was in trouble only once, when the Twins loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth.

A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-out, bases-loaded single that scored Chris Gomez. But Pierzynski overran first base and got caught between Giambi and Soriano. Corey Koskie tried score from third, but Jorge Posada tagged him out at the plate to end Minnesota's threat.

"We know we can play with these guys, and we know we can beat these guys," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes with plate umpire Joe Brinkman. "We just haven't done it on the field yet. But it's April, there's still a lot of baseball to play."

Pierzynski scored on Mussina's wild pitch in the seventh to make it 8-2.

New York's starting pitchers are 13-0, the longest winning streak to begin a major league season since 1900.

"We're just all clicking right," Mussina said. "You don't question it, you don't say anything too much about it. You go out and go after it and try to keep it going."

Williams added his solo shot with two outs in the third to make it 4-0, and Posada singled off Johan Santana in the fifth to score Johnson and Williams.

Notes

  • Matsui, who had started the Yankees' previous 17 games, has played in 1,268 straight games spanning his days with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Central League.
  • Mussina started 4-0 in 1992 with Baltimore.
  • The Twins activated RHP Mike Fetters from the DL and optioned RHP Juan Rincon to Triple-A Rochester. Fetters worked one inning, allowing one hit.


AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
 
 
 
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Alfonso Soriano, 2B422010 .373
Nick Johnson, DH322020 .273
Jason Giambi, 1B512302 .197
Bernie Williams, CF522200 .377
Raul Mondesi, RF512001 .328
Jorge Posada, C501202 .276
Robin Ventura, 3B401000 .269
   a- Todd Zeile, PH-3B100000 .182
Bubba Trammell, LF200010 .357
    Hideki Matsui, PR-LF101100 .314
Enrique Wilson, SS401000 .267
Totals39814845 
a-grounded out for Ventura in the 9th
Batting
2B - Bernie Williams (4, Lohse), Raul Mondesi (7, Fiore), Jorge Posada (4, Santana), Robin Ventura (2, Lohse), Hideki Matsui (6, Fiore)
HR - Jason Giambi (4, Lohse), Bernie Williams (4, Lohse)
RBI - Jason Giambi 3 (10), Bernie Williams 2 (16), Jorge Posada 2 (15), Hideki Matsui (19)
2-OUT RBI - Bernie Williams (5), Jorge Posada 2 (3), Hideki Matsui (3)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Raul Mondesi 1
DP - Soriano-Giambi
Mike Mussina (W,4-0) 7522380 1.86
Jason Anderson 1000010 11.57
Randy Choate 1100000 0.00
WP - Mike Mussina 2 (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Mussina 104-67, Jason Anderson 11-7, Randy Choate 7-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Mussina 7-5, Jason Anderson 1-1, Randy Choate 2-0
Batters Faced - Mike Mussina 28, Jason Anderson 3, Randy Choate 3
Jacque Jones, LF400003 .333
Chris Gomez, SS412000 .474
Corey Koskie, 3B200020 .281
Torii Hunter, CF300002 .172
    Dustan Mohr, CF100001 .107
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B301000 .254
   a- Denny Hocking, PH100000 .143
Bobby Kielty, DH301011 .366
A.J. Pierzynski, C312100 .246
    Matthew LeCroy, C100000 .263
Michael Cuddyer, RF300001 .200
Luis Rivas, 2B300001 .231
Totals3126139 
a-grounded out for Mientkiewicz in the 9th
Batting
2B - A.J. Pierzynski (4, Mussina)
RBI - A.J. Pierzynski (5)
2-OUT RBI - A.J. Pierzynski (3)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Rivas-Gomez-Mientkiewicz, Mientkiewicz
Kyle Lohse (L,2-2) 4.11077122 3.86
Johan Santana 1.2100320 0.00
Tony Fiore 1211000 8.00
Mike Fetters 1100000 0.00
Eddie Guardado 1000010 1.17
WP - Johan Santana (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Kyle Lohse 71-42, Johan Santana 43-24, Tony Fiore 16-8, Mike Fetters 18-10, Eddie Guardado 15-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kyle Lohse 3-6, Johan Santana 1-2, Tony Fiore 1-2, Mike Fetters 1-2, Eddie Guardado 1-1
Batters Faced - Kyle Lohse 22, Johan Santana 9, Tony Fiore 5, Mike Fetters 4, Eddie Guardado 3
Attendance - 18818
Game Time - 2:50
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Joe Brinkman, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Mike DiMuro, Third Base - Andy Fletcher