MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andy Pettitte has seen Robinson Cano’s sweet left-handed swing for so long that he can almost tell when a hot streak is coming.
The way Cano was launching balls all over Target Field on Monday night, Pettitte thinks another tear is right around the corner, and not a moment too soon for the struggling New York Yankees offense.
Cano homered twice and Pettitte broke Whitey Ford’s club record for career strikeouts to help New York snap a five-game skid with a 10-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
“It’s impressive,” Pettitte said, marveling at Cano’s 435-foot solo shot in the first inning and an opposite-field homer in the third. “Hopefully he can keep it going. But what a talent he is. It’s fun to watch him hit.”
Zoilo Almonte had three hits and two RBIs as the slumbering Yankees offense woke up with seven runs in the last two innings to reach double digits for the first time since May 10.
Struggling reliever Jared Burton (1-6) gave up three runs and three hits while getting only one out for the Twins, who coughed up another eighth-inning lead. Ryan Doumit had two hits and two RBIs.
Cano also had a double, a walk and three RBIs for the Yankees, who totaled 13 runs during their losing streak.
“We’re not that team anymore that we used to have the guys that we could say, ‘This guy might hit two home runs in the next inning,’” Cano said. “So we’ve just got to take advantage when we get men on base.”
Pettitte allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. Joba Chamberlain (1-0) pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the win.
Scott Diamond gave up two earned runs and seven hits with five strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings for the Twins, who took a 4-3 lead into the eighth thanks to a solo homer by Chris Parmelee in the sixth.
Cano, however, had more in store for Minnesota.
“Tough out,” Diamond said. “He kind of spoiled it for us tonight.”
Burton, an effective setup man since joining the Twins last season, was shaky again. He gave up a double to Cano to start the eighth, then couldn’t get speedy Ichiro Suzuki on a bunt single. Burton tried to pick off Suzuki at first base, but his throw sailed past Justin Morneau and allowed Cano to score and tie the game.
Almonte followed with his go-ahead single past a drawn-in infield, and New York cruised from there.
The Yankees haven’t looked much like the Yankees of late, running out relatively no-name lineups filled with youngsters and journeymen while their stars mend on the disabled list. They had lost 13 of their previous 18 to fall into fourth place in the AL East, and Pettitte looked nothing like the consistent lefty he’s been for most of 18 seasons in the early going Monday night.
He needed 41 pitches to get through the first inning. He gave up a two-run single to Doumit and allowed another run to score when he slipped to the ground while trying to field a comebacker from Oswaldo Arcia. Pettitte threw the ball over first baseman Lyle Overbay’s head, allowing Doumit to score from second base for a 3-1 lead.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who earned his 600th career win, had Preston Claiborne warming in the bullpen in the first, but Pettitte was able to settle down after that rocky inning, breezing through the next four to keep his team in the game.
“You hope that the hard work that they’ve been putting in starts to pay off,” Girardi said. “Maybe this is the start of something.”
Cano’s second homer of the night, a two-run shot to left field, tied the score 3-all in the third, and Pettitte made some more history in the fifth. He began the night needing two strikeouts to pass Ford for the Yankees record. After fanning Clete Thomas in the third inning, Pettitte broke the record by getting Morneau swinging in the fifth for his 1,958th career strikeout.
“I feel very fortunate to be around for as long as I have,” Pettitte said. “To be able to be mentioned with Whitey’s name is obviously always an honor.”
The Twins were missing Josh Willingham with a left knee injury, and Joe Mauer struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance in the eighth.
NOTES: It was Cano’s third multihomer game this season and the 13th of his career. … Twins RHP Mike Pelfrey gave up two runs and two hits with six strikeouts in six innings during a rehab outing for Class-A Cedar Rapids. … Twins GM Terry Ryan on Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who has tormented the Twins over the years and is retiring after this season: “God bless that man. He’s been a tremendous closer. But it’s not going to break my heart to see him go off into the sunset.”