NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi offered up a prophecy Monday afternoon that he'd rather have not seen come true.
Just hours before his club took the field for the series opener against the visiting Twins -- who have had remarkably little success at Yankee Stadium over the last 10 years -- Girardi noted how formidable the heart of Minnesota's order is again, with the resurgent health of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and the addition of outfielder Josh Willingham.
The Yankees -- starting pitcher Freddy Garcia in particular -- saw it come to fruition firsthand in Minnesota's 7-3 victory.
Mauer, Willingham and Morneau -- who occupied the 3-4-5 spots in Minnesota's lineup -- combined to go 6-for-14 with three runs, three RBIs and a homer (5-for-9, with all three runs and the homer, against Garcia).
"It's totally different," Girardi said of the Twins' lineup his club faced Monday, compared to what they've seen over the last year or so. "You take the heart of the order out of any order and it's gonna be tough to score runs. Those guys have been beat up, and it's been unfortunate for the Twins. But they seem to be healthy right now."
And that was unfortunate for the Yankees. It was only the Twins' sixth win in the Bronx in 34 tries under manager Ron Gardenhire, who began his tenure with Minnesota in 2002.
And it was a satisfying return for Twins starter Carl Pavano, who spent three forgettable seasons in pinstripes but earned his first career victory against the Yankees on Monday. Pavano, unlike Garcia, weathered a first-inning storm to pitch seven quality innings, scattering seven hits and just three first-inning runs.
"That was all Carl," Twins catcher Ryan Doumit said. "For him to come out in a hostile environment and quickly give up three in the first inning and go out and pitch the rest the way he did, I was awfully proud of him. It showed a lot of composure and poise on his part. And that's what you expect from a veteran leader. He showed us something today. With the reception he got today, we all hear it, I'm very, very proud of him."
Garcia labored immediately in a 30-pitch first inning, surrendering five consecutive hits (four with two outs, after Jamey Carroll was erased on the basepaths trying to steal second) and two runs. Mauer, Willingham and Morneau all reached in that inning.
"You have two outs, you've got to put it away, no matter what," Garcia said. "I don't care. You've got to put it away."
The Yankees responded in style in the next half-inning, as Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson hit back-to-back homers in a matter of four pitches to lead off the game against Pavano. It was the first time consecutive Yankees hitters had gone deep to lead off a game since Jeter and Robinson Cano did it on Sept. 23, 2005. Alex Rodriguez also singled and came around to score.
"You hope [it's going to be a big night]," Jeter said. "But it's early. It's the first inning. You know [Pavano is] gonna make some adjustments. He left a couple balls up there in the first inning, but after that, he stayed down. You hope every night's gonna be a big night. But he deserves a lot of credit. He pitched well."
Both starters pitched well after the rocky first -- Pavano did not face more than four hitters in an inning for the remainder of his outing, while Garcia retired 10 in a row at one point -- before the Yankees hurler cracked, surrendering two more in the fifth, as well as a Morneau solo homer to deep center in the sixth. Minnesota also tacked on two more in the seventh off New York reliever Cory Wade. Morneau could have had an even bigger night if not for a tremendous running grab by Granderson in the seventh.
When all was said and done, Garcia took his first loss of the year, while Pavano evened his mark at 1-1. Coming off an outing in which he threw five wild pitches, Garcia did not walk a batter on Monday but scattered the five earned runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Pavano's fine outing and Garcia's discouraging one overshadowed Jeter's continued success at the plate in this young season. The shortstop already has three homers in 10 games, after not hitting that many until July 9 last season (he hit just six in 131 total games). He also leads the club in batting average (.378) for players who have appeared in all 10 games.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, his offense -- and that of his teammates -- came early on in the night and did not continue.
"It was just a bad game," outfielder Nick Swisher said. "We fired off early and just couldn't get anything going later."