MINNEAPOLIS -- Phil Hughes pitched seven strong innings to best his former club while Miguel Sano paced a four-homer barrage, helping the Twins defeat the Yankees, 10-1, on Friday evening in the opener of a three-game series at Target Field.
Hughes limited New York to seven hits as he turned in his third start against the Bronx Bombers, with whom he spent the first seven years of his career. The scoreless effort marked the seventh quality start out of the last nine for Hughes, who walked none and struck out three.
"[Pitching coach] Neil [Allen] talked to me and he's like … 'These guys know you and they know you're going to be aggressive with your fastball and go after guys.' So I tried to incorporate more curveballs, changeups, cutters, just anything I could to go kind of get them off-balance," Hughes said. "As the innings progressed, that seemed to be working pretty well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Twins grab early lead: After working a full count, Sano gave Hughes all the support he needed in the first inning, taking a slider from Pineda and depositing it behind the wall in straightaway center. It was Sano's third career home run and the first since he sprained his right ankle last weekend in Oakland.
"Offensively we had a lot of guys contribute, home runs late. Sano got us off to a good start with a really good at-bat. [Kurt Suzuki] had a couple big RBIs for us early," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's nice when we spread it out."
"He threw a spinner-slider to Sano in the first inning and gave up the two-run homer," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He made some mistakes with his fastball where he didn't locate them extremely well. It was a combination of things."
Pineda can't stop the bleeding: Pineda and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury both appeared surprised that Sano's homer carried over the wall, but there was more trouble in the innings that followed. Pineda didn't miss many bats, setting up Suzuki's run-scoring hits in the second and fourth innings, as well as Aaron Hicks' fourth-inning sacrifice fly. More >
"I want to pitch good, I want to win the game," Pineda said. "I don't have control for those situations. I'm keeping my head up, working hard, to get back to pitching good and help my team."
Hughes locks down against former club: For the first start since June 3, Hughes didn't give up a home run, despite the Yankees coming into the day third in the Majors with 123 dingers. The Yankees' seven hits against him were all singles as Hughes turned in his first scoreless start of the season. More >
"Anytime you're giving up homers, you're obviously giving up runs and that's not the object of this game, so it was nice to go out there and stay away from that," Hughes said.
Yanks leave them loaded: Silenced for most of the evening by Hughes, the Yankees showed signs of life in the seventh on three straight two-out hits. Molitor visited the mound but left Hughes in to face Ellsbury, who flied out to left field to complete Hughes' seventh scoreless inning.
"He didn't give us anything free," Chase Headley said. "He attacked the zone and threw strikes, and they scored some runs for him. That's a good combination for him."
"I don't want to take anything away from Phil, but we hit the ball pretty hard tonight. They happened to be standing where we hit it and made some really good plays behind him. He made a great one himself on Gardy's ball [in the third inning]. I thought we hit the ball a lot better than one run." -- Girardi
"It's special, man. This is a guy, early in my career, he gave me a lot, and just to be mentioned as far as [the] home run column, to tie him, it's a special day for me. I always think about him, and today I'm really thinking about him." -- Hunter, on tying Kirby Puckett for sixth on the Twins' all-time list with 207 home runs
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:CC Sabathia (4-8, 5.25 ERA) will try to build off an encouraging performance in his last start for the second game of a three-game set against the Twins on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT (7:10 ET). Sabathia is 3-0 in three career starts at Target Field, compiling a 2.86 ERA while pitching at least seven innings with three earned runs or fewer in each outing.
Twins: Lefty Tommy Milone will be looking to bounce back from his shortest outing of the season. Milone gave up seven runs -- five earned -- in 2 2/3 innings his last time out, but he is 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA on the season. Prior to that, he had thrown six consecutive quality starts.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.