Perkins' gem vaults Twins back into first

Perkins hurls eight shutout innings

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire walked into his office on Monday afternoon at the Metrodome and penciled in Glen Perkins as his starting pitcher for that night's contest against the Yankees.

Even though, the skipper admits, he did not know if the left-hander would actually be there to pitch.

Perkins had left the Twins in Kansas City early on Sunday morning after learning that his wife, Alisha, had gone into labor back in the Twin Cities. It left the job of the starting pitcher for Monday's game very much in question.

But when Alisha delivered the couple's second daughter, Lyla, at 6 p.m. CT on Sunday and he held his healthy little girl, Perkins said there was no question that he was going to pitch in the series opener.

So after arriving at the Metrodome on Monday a little fatigued and running on his own share of adrenaline, Perkins delivered a masterful performance -- holding the Yankees scoreless over eight innings -- in the Twins' 4-0 victory over New York.

A win that was certainly made sweeter by Perkins' newest addition.

"It's a great feeling," Perkins said. "I always pitch for my family ... but to do that on a day after you have a baby is really special. You get a little bit extra [adrenaline] when you are in a situation like that."

After going 0-2 in his first two contests against New York this season, Perkins managed to hold the vaunted Bronx Bombers to just four hits on Monday night. He issued three walks and struck out four.

While he cruised through the latter part of his outing, Perkins (9-3) did find some trouble early on. The left-hander had runners on first and third in each of his first two innings, but his defense helped him out of the jams -- even turning a critical double play in the second.

Despite the troubles and knowing what Perkins had been through over the past 48 hours, Gardenhire said he wasn't too concerned about the pitcher.

"I think he was in control," Gardenhire said. "He seemed relaxed. To go out there in this atmosphere, just had a baby, well you don't know how a young pitcher is going to react in that situation. But he looked calm out there. ... What a performance."

That certainly was the case after the second. Perkins allowed just one hit over his next six innings, and the Yankees (63-56) never really threatened to score. The eight-inning gem was just the type of performance that the Twins needed for a fatigued bullpen. And considering the circumstances under which Perkins pitched just made it even more amazing to his teammates.

"I can't imagine how it feels for [Perkins] to go out and pitch the way he did tonight -- that's impressive," said Justin Morneau.

Monday's victory over the Yankees gave Gardenhire the 600th win of his career, and it also moved the Twins (66-52) back into first place in the American League Central, one day after losing their hold on the spot to the White Sox.

The 12-inning 5-4 loss to the Royals on Sunday that cost Minnesota its place atop the division was considered one of the club's most disappointing losses of late. So it only seemed only fitting that the man who blamed himself for that defeat would end up being the offensive hero in the victory one night later.

Shortstop Adam Everett, whose throwing error in the eighth inning on Sunday allowed the tying run to score, made up for his miscue by hitting a two-run homer off Yankees starter Sidney Ponson in the second inning on Monday.

After battling through seven pitches in the at-bat against Ponson, who kept sinking the ball to the shortstop, Everett managed to put that eighth pitch just over the left-field fence to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.

"I just happened to hit it, and it went in the air," Everett said. "I just really couldn't believe that I hit it in the air. I said, 'Well, it's either a home run or an out, one or the other, because this place is so big.' It just happened to go over the wall."

The rare home run by Everett was aided by a story involving the shortstop before the game.

The ceremonial first pitch on Monday was thrown out by astronaut Jeff Williams, who also happens to be an Astros season-ticket holder. Williams told Gardenhire that after watching Everett play in Houston over the past few seasons, Everett had become the astronaut's favorite shortstop of all-time.

So the skipper introduced Williams to Everett. But the exchange ended up being slightly awkward for Everett.

"He said to me, 'I just wish you hit a little better,'" Everett said. "I was like, 'Great, thanks, nice to meet you, nice talking to you.' It was a double-edged compliment."

But his teammates would chide him over the statement as Everett seemed to take the advice to heart.

"Might just have been the boost he needs," Gardenhire said with a laugh. "He goes out and hits a home run. We sure gave him a lot of grief in the dugout."

The Twins would end up tagging Ponson (7-3) for a total of four runs on seven hits over his 7 2/3 innings. Joe Mauer drove in Denard Span from third base on a sacrifice fly to left field in the sixth. Span added another run in the eighth when he scored from second on a two-out Morneau infield single.

But while the Twins were finally able to hand Ponson a loss, his first in four starts against his former team this season, the night truly belonged to Perkins.

The 25-year-old lefty flew through his start, delivering what he joked must have been the fastest game of the season involving the Yankees. His hurry was to get back to the hospital to see his wife and newborn daughter, and share the memorable evening with them -- even though he said they were watching it at the hospital.

"[Alisha's] mom went up there, and they were going to watch on the little 13-inch TV there," Perkins said. "Not as good of a view as they usually get, but I think she's pretty excited right now."

Considering the way that Perkins helped carry them to this victory, so were the Twins on Monday night.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.