Somehow, some way, Andy Pettitte got out of the inning to keep the score tied at 2.
No. 9 hitter Drew Butera led off the bottom of the eighth with a drive to center that Brett Gardner nearly tracked down. But the ball bounced off his glove and Butera went into second with a double. An error followed as Alex Rodriguez mishandled Denard Span’s bunt, putting runners on first and third. Orlando Hudson lined back to Pettitte for the first out, but the lefty fell in a 3-and-1 hole to Mauer.
Pettitte, however, got Mauer to bounce into a 6-4-3, to end the threat and quiet the Target Field crowd that was into it like a playoff game.
“It’s a tough situation because he’s such a great hitter,” Pettitte said.
Pettitte gave a Joba-like fist pump after the double play.
“It was exciting,” Pettitte said. “There’s no doubt I got a little excited out there.”
Nick Swisher said the bench was electric after the double play and he did his part to keep it that way, hitting a solo homer down the line in right with two outs in the ninth, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
“To be able to get lucky in a position like that, especially off a great closer like [Jon] Rauch, I could not be more happy,” Swisher said.
It was Swisher's eighth homer of the season, a shot that even this ballpark, which has caused Twins hitters to grumble to themselves all season, couldn't hold. Derek Jeter won the first game with a homer to left-center.
“It’s amazing [getting the winning runs on two homers] because there were some balls that were hit during these two games that I thought were homers and they weren’t,” manager Joe Girardi said. “So this ballpark does play big.”
It certainly did in the first game when J.J. Hardy blasted one off Mariano Rivera that just about everyone, including Rivera, thought would leave the yard. Instead Kevin Russo put it away on the track in front of the wall. Rivera pitched an easy ninth in the second game to collect his second save of the day and 10th of the season.
“It’s great to pitch in a field like that,” Rivera said with a smile.
Pettitte was tremendous, going eight innings and allowing two runs and eight hits. He threw 94 pitches, 72 for strikes, striking out four and walking none.
“I felt good with everything tonight. My changeup hadn’t been very good at all my last two or three starts and I had a good changeup tonight and that helped me big time to be able to feel like I could throw that at any count," Pettitte said. "And I was throwing everything for strikes. I felt like I was getting my cutter where I wanted to all night, my fastballs where I wanted to for the most part. So it’s just a good feeling when you can get in a good rhythm like that.”