NEW YORK (AP) -- So much for all those worries about David Wells being distracted.
Looking as sharp as ever, Wells pitched a three-hitter and Hideki Matsui delivered a two-run double, sending the New York Yankees over the Minnesota Twins 2-0 Thursday for their fourth straight victory.
"I'm not really thinking too much out there right now," Wells
said. "I'm just throwing the ball."
The Yankees improved to 8-1, their best start since posting the
same record to open the 1988 season. New York sent the defending AL
Central champions to their sixth loss in a row.
Wells pitched for the first time at Yankee Stadium this season,
and the first time since he was fined $100,000 by the Yankees for
writing his autobiography, "Perfect I'm Not! Boomer on Beer,
Brawls, Backaches & Baseball."
"There were so many things swirling around him this spring,"
Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "When he gets challenged, he's
pretty darn good."
Wells (2-0) was in control the whole way, never permitting a
runner past second base in his 12th career shutout and first since
last May 16 against Tampa Bay. He walked none, struck out six and
twice hit A.J. Pierzynski with pitches.
Wells did not stir much reaction from the crowd of 29,255 until
the final inning. He's always been a fan favorite in New York, but
the chilly conditions kept down the cheers.
"I had some pretty good butterflies working," he said. "I
wanted to get the first one at Yankee Stadium out of the way."
Wells worked in short sleeves on the 45-degree afternoon,
quickly and efficiently throwing just 96 pitches in shutting down
the low-scoring Twins. He also was fast off the mound, making a
nice play on Dustan Mohr's tapper to open the sixth.
"We've seen him before. We've seen him when we get no hits, so
at least we got a couple," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire was on the Twins' staff when Wells pitched a perfect
game against them at Yankee Stadium in 1998. Wells improved to 17-6
lifetime against Minnesota.
Minnesota has scored only 24 runs in nine games overall this
season, and New York pitching is partly the reason. Yankees
starters are 8-0 with a 2.12 ERA so far.
"You know good pitching does this, but we can hit better than
this," Gardenhire said. "I think everybody's struggling to do too
much. It's a little frustrating. We wanted to get off to a good
Matsui and Bernie Williams each had three hits as New York
completed a three-game sweep and beat the Twins for the ninth
consecutive time. Matsui continued to show he's much more than just
a power hitter.
Rick Reed (0-2) was in trouble all four innings before leaving
with a strained right groin. He was listed as day-to-day.
"He said he could've stayed out there," Gardenhire said.
After grounding back to Reed to strand two runners and end the
first inning, Matsui came up again in the third with runners on
second and third and one out.
Reed appeared as though he was trying to pitch around Matsui,
throwing three balls. Then on a 3-1 pitch, the left-handed Matsui
neatly went the opposite way with an outside pitch and lined it
into the left-field corner for a double.
The Japanese star came back from his lone hitless game of the
season and raised his average to .316 with one home run. He has 10
RBI, tied with Alfonso Soriano for the team lead.
"I wasn't expecting to start off like this," Matsui said
through a translator. "I haven't been able to adjust yet and hit
home runs. What I'm concentrating on right now is to make
Johan Santana relieved Reed to begin the fifth and shut out the
Yankees the rest of the way, striking out eight in four innings.
Santana has not allowed a run in nine innings this season.
Twins SS Cristian Guzman and LF Jacque Jones both got the
day off for rest. ... Minnesota has scored three runs or fewer in
seven straight games. ... Two-time Gold Glove CF Torii Hunter made
his first error of the season, letting Williams' single get past
him. The misplay set up Matsui's big double. ... Yankees rookie SS
Erick Almonte made a nice play on Luis Rivas' grounder up the
middle, making a backhanded flip for a force to end the fifth with
two runners on base.