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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 18: Carlos Beltran #36 of the New York Yankees celebrates hitting a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the eighth inning of the game on June 18, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Yankees defeated the Twins 7-6. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Seems like old times: Yankees vs Twins series recap

The Yankees headed to Minnesota with a four game losing streak in tow and had been smacked around a bit in a two game set with the Rockies.  The Yankees have always had success at Target Field as they are 18-5 there.  The Twins have the American League’s worst record at 20-45 and we know the Yankees track record of recent against this type of club.  The time for moving is now as the Blue Jays have made a move toward the top of the division and getting past them and the Red Sox and Orioles will be all the more difficult the longer the Yankees  play .500 baseball.

C.C. hangs on until he gets run support

The opening game of the series saw C.C. Sabathia go to the mound looking to continue his surprise 2016 campaign.  Sabathia would start out the game shaky and for the second start in a row, run up a high pitch count early.  However, he would manage to strand five runners in the first two innings and settle in from there.  He would need 116 pitches to get through six innings of work.  But, in the end, it was still six innings of one run baseball.  His ERA now stands at 2.20 on the season.  Yep, I still have to double check that every time I see it.

The offense couldn’t manage much early on against Kyle Gibson.  Two hits were erased on the basepaths and he had faced the minimum through five innings.  The game was tied 1-1 heading to the seventh when Didi Gregorius blasted a 3-run home run off of lefty reliever Fernando Abad.  Didi has killed lefties this year with a line of .357/.400/.411, but Abad has been no slouch against left-handed batters, holding them to a .097 average.  Something had to give, obviously, and after Abad grooved a first pitch fastball, Didi took care of business.

Betances, Miller, and Chapman took care of things from there and the Yankees would finish off this one 4-1.  It took a minute for the offense to come around, and this has been par for the course for Sabathia of late.  Coming into this game, his ERA in his last six starts stood at 0.82, but he had two losses in that stretch.

Tanaka time

Masahiro Tanaka would take to the mound looking to piggyback Sabathia’s performance from the night before.  He would have to wait a little extra time to hit the field as the Yankees would put up four runs in the top of the first.  The highlight would be Carlos Beltran‘s two-run home run.  That would be all that Tanaka would need for the night.

Tanaka did start out a little sloppy early on, needing a couple of good defensive plays and a near miss home run on a ball hit by Eduardo Escobar.  He would settle down though and retire 20 of the last 25 batters he faced.  He would go 8 innings, giving up 7 hits and one run with five strikeouts.  Quality stuff there.  Tanaka has paired with Sabathia to form a solid 1-2 punch at the top of  the rotation.

Unlike the previous night, the offense did it’s job early on and made this one seem like it was on cruise control the whole way.  Every position player had a hit by the third inning.  Austin Romine would add a two-run double and Starlin Castro‘s sacrifice fly would make it 8-1 after four innings.  Escobar would add a ninth inning home run off of Nick Goody to make the final score 8-2.  Seems like old times against the Twins, doesn’t it?

A nice comeback

Saturday’s contest looked it was just going to be one of those  days for the Yankees.  The offense could get nothing going early on against Ricky Nolasco.  They were limited to a handful of singles in the first six innings and two of the baserunners were erased by double plays.  Michael Pineda was on the mound for the Yankees and looked like his typical 2016 self.

Pineda would give up 4 runs in 5.1 innings of work, but all four runs would score with two outs in the inning.  Shocking, I know. Even though he has pitched better of late, cutting a full run off of his ERA, he has had trouble all season finishing off innings.  The big blow for the Twins would Byung-Ho Park’s two-run shot in the fourth inning.

The Twins bullpen is pretty much garbage this season and they would play a big part in the finish of this game.  Nolasco would give up a two-run home run to Alex Rodriguez in the seventh to cut the lead in half as the  offense tried to come to life.  Beltran’s two-run opposite field shot in the eighth would tie things at 4 apiece.  Beltran has been a beast in his last 15 games with a line of .364/.397/.727 with six home runs and 17 RBIs.

The ninth inning would be strange for both teams on Saturday.  The Yankees would load the bases on a walk, a bunt single on an attempted sacrifice, a passed ball, and an intentional walk.  Jacoby Ellsbury would come through with the 2-run single and Brett Gardner would plate another with a sacrifice fly.  The Yankees had scored seven runs in the last three innings to take a 7-4 lead.

Chapman would pitch the ninth and after striking out the first two batters of the inning, would give up back-to-back home runs.  He would get Trevor Plouffe to ground out to end things, however.  Never in doubt, right?  Okay, I was holding my breath as well.

The Yankees climbed back to the .500 mark with the 7-6 win and will go for the four game sweep on Sunday afternoon.  The recently struggling Nathan Eovaldi will try to get back on track against Ervin Santana.  Santana has had his own struggles of late as he is 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA in his last five starts.  Which means he will probably pitch seven innings of shutout baseball tomorrow.

Put your brooms away

The Yankees could not hold on to an early lead on Sunday showing just how difficult a four game sweep is, even against a struggling opponent.  Brian McCann helped stake the club to an early lead with the first of his two home runs on the day.  Gardner would add an RBI double to push the Bombers to a 2-0 lead after four.

Nathan Eovaldi looked to be putting his recent struggles behind him through the first five innings.  After walking two in the first, he got 14 of the next 17 batters out.  A Max Kepler home run would provide the lone  Twin run in that stretch.  The sixth inning would prove to be a familiar downfall for Eovaldi as the Twins would plate four runs.  He would end up going 5.1 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs, with only 2 strikeouts.  The splitter that was gold in May is not there now and Eovaldi has given up at least four runs in his last four starts.  Betances would be charged with one of the runs in the sixth, and Yates and Goody would each give up a run in one inning of work apiece.  Yates and Goody have both been giving up runs at a high rate of late.

McCann would add his second home run and end up 3-for-4 on the day, breaking out of an 0-for-15 slump.  Gardner would also add a pair of hits, but the Yankees would drop to a game below .500 with the 7-3 loss.  The road trip ended up at 3-3 against a couple of clubs they should have done better against.  They return home to face the same two clubs at Yankee Stadium as the cries for selling off trade chips begin to get louder with each passing day.