Yankees fall to Twins in 11th on Francisco Cervelli's throwing error

Military aircraft fly over Target Field during the
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Military aircraft fly over Target Field during the National Anthem as part of Military Appreciation Day before a game between the Yankees and the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 6, 2014.(Credit: AP / Ann Heisenfelt)

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MINNEAPOLIS - On an afternoon when Joe Girardi had a short bullpen, David Phelps more than did his job.

But a popgun Yankees offense and a sloppy defense didn't come close to doing theirs, leading to a 2-1 loss in 11 innings to the Twins Saturday in front of 36,514 at Target Field.

The loss dropped the Yankees, who went 7-for-40 against six Twins pitchers, back to .500 at 43-43.

The Twins (39-47) won it in the 11th on a throwing error by Francisco Cervelli, who was trying to execute an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play. "It's tough. Phelpsie pitched a great game," Joe Girardi said. "To lose like that . . . it just kind of looked like the ball slipped out of Cervy's hand. It's frustrating."

With the bases loaded and one out, Trevor Plouffe trickled one back to Matt Thornton (0-2). He made an underhand flip to Cervelli for the easy forceout, but Cervelli's line of sight to first was blocked by Plouffe, who was running to first on the infield grass. Cervelli said he should have eaten the ball; instead, he made a wild, tailing throw into foul territory to the right of Plouffe that was closer to Twins first-base coach Scott Ullger than Mark Teixeira, who had no chance to grab it. That allowed Josh Willingham to score standing up for the walk-off win.

"We have to make one out first,'' Cervelli said, "and when I tried to turn the double play, I just have to eat the ball because if you don't have vision, you have to stop."

Phelps allowed one run -- on Willingham's leadoff homer in the seventh that tied it at 1-1 -- and three hits in seven innings. That length was needed. Girardi didn't have Dellin Betances, who had pitched in the previous two games, and preferred to stay away from David Robertson.

But sounding very much like Andy Pettitte, who mentored Phelps, the righthander wasn't interested in hearing how well he pitched in a team loss.

"We're out there grinding and there's going to be games where we don't score a lot of runs," he said. "That's why it's frustrating for me to give up a leadoff homer in the seventh. If I put up a zero there, we can put that game away with our bullpen."

Twins righthander Yohan Pino, making his fourth major-league start, entered the game 0-2 with a 6.32 ERA but held the Yankees to one run and three hits in six innings.

"I'm not really sure," Girardi said of why Pino was so effective. "It's a guy that we've never seen before. He has that turn that sometimes can create some deception, but we just didn't do much against him."

The starters matched zeros through four innings, with the Yankees collecting one hit in that stretch and the Twins two.

The Yankees broke through in the fifth when Cervelli, a late addition to the lineup when Brian McCann was scratched with a sore left foot, drove in Ichiro Suzuki with a two-out single.

But Willingham led off the seventh by jumping on a 1-and-1 fastball and crushing it off the facing of the second deck in leftfield for his eighth homer.

"It was supposed to be down and away; it was middle," Phelps said.

The Yankees went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.

"They pitched well too," said Derek Jeter, who batted leadoff with Brett Gardner getting a rest and went 1-for-5. "We would have liked to score some more runs, but they mixed it up. It seemed like it was a game that was going to go on forever. Opportunities were few and far between, but they capitalized on a mistake and beat us."

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