Bronx, NY – Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada both hit a two-run homer, rookie Ivan Nova kept New York ahead and the Yankees made it another tough visit for Minnesota, beating the Twins 4-3 Monday night.
Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera each pitched a scoreless inning to close the Yankees’ 15th victory in their last 16 home tries against Minnesota — that includes wins in New York’s opening-round playoff sweeps over the Twins the last two years.
Rodriguez lined his 615th career homer in the first, then Posada connected the next inning for his third home run in two days. At 39 and now a full-time designated hitter, Posada seems to have adjusted nicely to his new role.
The shots off Scott Baker (0-1) gave the Yankees 11 home runs through their first four games, and once again the long balls gave them a lead they could hold.
Nova (1-0) earned the No. 4 spot in the rotation with an exceptional spring and pitched six effective innings in his season debut. The right-hander started out like a poised vet, striking out leadoff man Denard Span on three pitches.
Nova held the Twins hitless until Justin Morneau doubled in the fourth. Jim Thome lined a two-run double later in the inning — it was the first hit of the year for the 40-year-old DH, now in his 21st season.
Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka doubled in the fifth, pulling the Twins within 4-3. But that was all Minnesota would get as the Yankees soon went to their dominant bullpen.
Chamberlain pitched a perfect seventh, Soriano worked around a single in the eighth and Rivera finished with one-hit ninth for his third save. Rodriguez made a nice play at third base to end it.
Baker was the latest Twins pitcher to hurt himself with a lack of control. Minnesota issued the fewest walks in the majors last year, but has walked 20 in four games this season. Baker hit Mark Teixeira with a two-out pitch before Rodriguez homered, and a leadoff walk to Nick Swisher set up Posada’s homer.
Rodriguez’s second home run of the season gave him 1,835 RBIs, moving him past Dave Winfield on the career list and tying him with Rafael Palmeiro for 14th place.
Rodriguez later grounded into a pair of double plays. Twins star Joe Mauer went 0-for-4 and so did Span, who struck out three times and bounced into a DP.
Game notes: Twins LF Delmon Young made a diving catch to take away a two-run hit from Brett Gardner. … Teixeira was hit by a pitch in the right foot in the first. He was checked by a trainer and stayed in the game. He homered in the Yankees’ first three games, and came close with a long drive that just hooked foul in the fifth. … Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game that he wanted to give closer Joe Nathan the day off. Nathan missed last year after Tommy John surgery and earned a tough save Sunday. Gardenhire plans to avoid using Nathan on back-to-back days for the first month or so. … Andruw Jones is set to make his Yankees debut Tuesday night in left field. … Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he’s not worried that Phil Hughes’ velocity was down in spring training and again in his first start. Hughes topped out at 91 mph Sunday. “Let’s not make too much of four innings,” Girardi said.