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Garcia ineffective in 7-3 loss to Twins

Freddy Garcia #36 of the New York Yankees

Freddy Garcia #36 of the New York Yankees leaves the game in the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. (April 16, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Suddenly, Andy Pettitte can't get back soon enough.

After two times through the rotation, a Yankees starting staff that many felt should be among the best in the American League hasn't honored that characterization, for the most part.

Freddy Garcia, who had almost no command last week in frigid Baltimore, was the latest to struggle in a 7-3 loss to the Twins on an unseasonably warm April night at the Stadium.

Garcia, who threw five wild pitches against the Orioles last Tuesday, missed few barrels Monday night, allowing five runs and nine hits in 52/3 innings as the Yankees fell to 5-5. Garcia (0-1) has a 6.97 ERA in his two starts.

Ten games into the season, the Yankees have gotten just two quality starts.

"When you're in a real long stretch, 13 games in a row, your bullpen's getting more used than you want,'' Joe Girardi said. "We do need to get some quality starts so we don't have to go to them so much. Tomorrow would be a great day for CC [Sabathia] to go out and do what he usually does.''

The lefthander, who goes Tuesday night, hasn't done that yet, lugging a 6.75 ERA into the game after two poor starts.

The still-loathed Carl Pavano (1-1), booed lustily as he made his way from the bullpen before Monday night's game, recovered from a three-run first in which Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson led off with back-to-back homers to rightfield in the span of three pitches. Pavano allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

"After that [inning], Carl settled down,'' Jeter said of his former teammate. "He's the story of the game, he pitched well. He knows how to pitch. He'll throw any pitch at any time to anybody. He did great, settled down after the first inning.''

With Pettitte due back around May 10, assuming there are no setbacks, the next three-plus weeks were thought to be a competition between Garcia and Phil Hughes to see who stays in the rotation and who leaves when the 39-year-old lefthander returns. Fortunately for Garcia, Hughes hasn't been all that sharp, either.

"You have to see how guys are throwing. I think that's the easiest way to do it,'' Girardi said before the game, referring to what he'll be weighing in making that decision.

Garcia had a rough first, though it started well enough. He struck out leadoff man Denard Span and allowed an infield single to Jamey Carroll, who was erased trying to steal as Russell Martin threw a strike to Jeter.

But Joe Mauer kept the inning going with a double down the leftfield line and scored on Josh Willingham's single. Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit singled to make it 2-0.

Garcia again gave up a pair of two-out runs in the fifth, which was the most vexing part of the night for him.

"When you have two outs, you have to put them away no matter what,'' said Garcia, still seething about allowing Mauer's RBI double on an 0-and-2 pitch in the fifth.

Jeter and Granderson both launched 1-and-0 pitches out of the park in the bottom of the first, with Jeter's shot extending his franchise record for leadoff homers (26).

Granderson's blast marked the first time the Yankees opened with back-to-back homers since Sept. 23, 2005, when Jeter and Robinson Cano did it.

Alex Rodriguez then reached on an infield single and advanced to second on third baseman Danny Valencia's wild throw to first. With the shift on, Mark Teixeira beat it, ripping a run-scoring single down the rightfield line to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

But that would be it for the Yankees against Pavano, who scattered three hits in the next six innings. Cano's early-season difficulties continued as he went 0-for-3 with a walk, dropping his batting average to .244.

"Just a bad game,'' said Nick Swisher, who went 0-for-4. "We fired off early. It was kind of downhill from there.''

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