NEW YORK - Come October, the New York Yankees speed past the Minnesota Twins with ease.
Phil Hughes pitched seven shutout innings, Marcus Thames and Nick Swisher homered and the Yankees beat the Twins, 6-1, Saturday night to complete yet another three-game sweep of Minnesota and return to the AL championship series.
“We really wanted to close it out here,” Hughes said.
Robinson Cano tripled off Brian Duensing in the second inning and scored on Jorge Posada’s single, Mark Teixeira added an RBI single in the third and Thames made it 4-0 in the fourth with his first career postseason homer, a two-run drive over the right-field scoreboard. Swisher added a solo homer in the seventh against Scott Baker.
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The wild-card Yankees, rebounding from a late-season fade in which they lost 17 of their final 26, begin the ALCS on Friday at Texas or Tampa Bay. With the short first-round series, the defending World Series champions put ace CC Sabathia in position to start the opener.
The AL Central champion Twins lost their 12th straight postseason game dating to 2004, one shy of the record set by Boston from 1986-95.
In addition to this year, the Yankees knocked out the Twins in the first round in 2003, 2004 and last season. New York outscored the Twins 17-7 in this series and scorched them 69-36 in the four playoff triumphs,
“We expect everyone to produce. We don’t just rely on or one two guys,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We rely on a circular lineup.”
With Minnesota badly missing Justin Morneau, sidelined since midseason because of a concussion, the heart of the Twins’ order Saturday, AL MVP Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel, combined to go 3-for-20 (.150) with no RBI in the series.
“Right now, we’re in a little rut here. We can’t seem to get it together once we get into the playoffs,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.