- Last Updated: 8:39 AM, April 17, 2012
- Posted: 1:34 AM, April 17, 2012
On a night when Carl Pavano continued to kill the Yankees, Freddy Garcia let an early lead vanish and inched closer to pitching himself out of the rotation when Andy Pettitte returns.
During his four miserable years as a Yankee, Pavano killed the club that dropped $40 million on him and pitched in a paltry 26 games due to injuries his teammates publicly doubted were all legitimate.
Last night at Yankee Stadium, Pavano surfaced as a Twin and after Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson homered leading off the first inning, the right-hander was sensational and the winner in a 7-3 Minnesota victory that was witnessed by 40,218
“I better make better pitches or this is going to be a real short night,’’ Pavano said when asked about giving up back-to-back homers on four pitches to start the game.
He did better and more, providing seven innings in which he allowed three runs (all in the first) and seven hits.
The same can’t be said for Garcia, who has been shaky in two outings.
He gave up two runs in the first inning after two outs and two more in the fifth when Joe Mauer rifled an RBI double with two outs.
“The 0-2 to Mauer, I should have thrown a better pitch,’’ Garcia said. “It’s tough to let it happen. Bounce the pitch, that’s the bottom line and I wasn’t able to do that.’’
In two starts, the veteran righty is 0-1 with a 6.97 ERA and has given up 13 hits in 10 1/3 innings.
“We had a lead, 3-2, and they tied the game with two outs,’’ said Garcia, who gave up an RBI single to Jamey Carroll before Mauer’s double put the visitors on top.
An inning later, Justin Morneau smoked a homer to center off Garcia that hiked the bulge to 5-3. Two more runs in the eighth put the game out of reach for a Yankees lineup that didn’t score after Jeter and Granderson homered and Mark Teixeira delivered an RBI single in the first.
Pavano refused to make a big deal out of returning to The Bronx or facing the Yankees in the regular season for the first time since 2009 with the Indians.
“No, it wasn’t about coming in here and putting anything behind me,’’ said Pavano, whose contributions after signing his four-year Yankees deal put him in the argument as to who is the biggest pinstriped bust of all time. “Everything I went through is behind me.’’
And that’s where Garcia can find Pettitte. The veteran lefty’s breath can’t be felt on the necks of Phil Hughes and Garcia, but Pettitte is progressing at a pace that could have him a Yankee by the second week of May.
“Today I felt better [than his first start last week]. Hopefully, the next one will be better,’’ said Garcia, who is slated to pitch Saturday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
As for Pavano, Jeter was impressed.
“He knows how to pitch, he mixes it up and doesn’t throw many pitches over the plate,’’ said Jeter, who went 2-for-4. “He pitched well ... The only problem he has ever had was his health. He throws whatever he wants to whoever he wants. He pitched well. You can’t take anything away from him. He left a couple of balls up in the first but he settled down. He deserves a lot of credit.’’Follow @NYPostsports