In the midst of a scheduling quirk where they play the same 3 teams twice each in a 3 week span, the Yankees got their offense going again in a convincing series sweep at home against the Minnesota Twins. They have now built their lead to 2 full games over the Blue Jays, who seem to be fading after their hot start to the month. It seems as if the mid-season swoon was a brief one for the Yankees.
The first game started out scary for the home side. After giving up a run in the top of the second, starter Bryan Mitchell was nailed in the face on a comeback liner off the bat of former pinstriper Eduardo Nunez. He left the game and was diagnosed with a nasal fracture after a frightening few moments on the field.
From there, the team was down until Carlos Beltran hit yet another clutch homer to tie the game in the 6th. The game went into extra innings, when Chase Headley came up with the bases loaded in the 10th. He grounded to Nunez, who momentarily bobbled the ball which allowed the winning run to cross the plate and give the Yankees a walk-off 8-7 victory. Brian McCann had the big day with 3 hits and 5 RBI. Jacoby Ellsbury also had 3 hits.
The Yankees needed 6 relievers to get through the game after Mitchell’s departure, but were boosted by the late-inning performances of Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller, who gave up just one hit in 4 innings combined. The Twins scored in 5 of the first 6 innings thanks to big days from Miguel Sano and Trevor Plouffe, who each had 3 hits and 2 RBI. Minnesota did pound out 16 hits off of the Yankees brigade, but could not score after the 6th inning.
It came down to a slumping veteran to provide the uplift in the middle game of the series. Down by 3 in the bottom of the 7th, Alex Rodriguez added on to his major league record for career grand slams with his 25th to turn that deficit into a 5-4 lead. They added 3 runs in the 8th for a resounding 8-4 victory. The Yankees were stymied for 5.1 innings by the resurgent Mike Pelfrey, but beat up on the bullpen in the late innings. A-Rod’s 4 RBI led the charge, as did Gregory Bird‘s two hits and first career MLB RBI.
CC Sabathia showed more of his “new” pitching style with 6.2 innings of 4-run ball. In the 7th, it seemed as if the game would be decided in favor of the Twins after they used a Sano dinger and a Shane Robinson single to pull ahead by 3. Eduardo Escobar had 3 hits and Kurt Suzuki had two, but the team was shut down by the Yankees bullpen for a second consecutive night.
Bird was the word in the finale, as he hit 2 homers to power the offense. Their 4-3 win came because he drove in all 4 runs with 2-run shots in the 4th and the 6th. Ervin Santana was tagged for all 4 runs in his 7.2 innings of work. Minnesota’s pitching staff only gave up 7 hits, but Bird came up in the clutch to deliver the sweep.
Nathan Eovaldi was wonderful yet again. He went 7 and allowed just 3 runs, all of which came in the 6th. The Twins managed just 5 hits off of three Yankees pitchers, 2 of which were by Joe Mauer. He also drove in 2 of their 3 runs, the other coming off a soft single by Plouffe. Betances earned his 8th save after Joe Girardi decided to give Miller the day off.
This sweep could not have come at a better time for the Yankees, who were struggling to find their feet for about a week. There were some good and bad performances, let’s see who had them.
Offensive MVP: Jacoby Ellsbury- A solid 6-14 series after being in a funk for much of his short season.
Cold Streak: Didi Gregorius– After being the only consistent hitter during the rough patch, he quieted down with a 1-10 series.
Pitcher of the Series: Nathan Eovaldi- 7 innings of 3 run ball seems to be the norm for the pitcher who is now 13-2.
Mound Misery: CC Sabathia- Labored through 6.2 innings, and it’s hard work just watching him at this stage.