Trevor Plouffe evaded Brian McCann's tag to score the go-ahead run as part of a four-run sixth inning, helping lift the Twins to a 7-4 victory over the Yankees on Sunday as the clubs completed a four-game series at Target Field.
Eduardo Escobar's two-run triple highlighted a rally against right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who had limited the Twins to a Max Kepler home run through the first five innings. Kepler added a run-scoring single and Kurt Suzuki stroked an RBI double as part of the big inning, which included a video review that overturned an initial out call on Plouffe.
"Offensively, we had to scratch -- Eovaldi was good," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "[Plouffe] made a pretty athletic slide. ... We got the call reversal, which was huge, and we added on a little bit. And then we had to hold on."
"You've got to go out play and try to find a way to bring the energy after three tough games against New York," Molitor said. "It started with [Santana's] pitching. He gave up the home run to McCann and a bleeder for the second run, but he continued to pitch well all the way into the eighth inning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Maximilian II: Kepler recorded two big RBI hits in the victory, starting with his second career home run in the fifth inning that traveled 377 feet, per Statcast™, barely clearing the overhang in right field to cut New York's lead to 2-1.
"I didn't get all of it, but I think I got enough and I was just hoping for it to stay up," Kepler said. "I got enough backspin on it, and it got out."
He added an RBI single in the sixth as part of the four-run rally, stealing his first career base for good measure and scoring on Suzuki's double. Kepler added a double in the eighth for his first career three-hit game and also set a career high with three runs scored.
"On days like this, I'm just thankful for my mind being shut off and just being able to see the ball and react," Kepler said. More >
Evo runs out of gas: Eovaldi seemed to be in position to get the Yankees out of town with a four-game sweep, allowing just four hits through the first five innings. That all came undone in the sixth as Dozier blooped a one-out single to center, Plouffe singled and the Twins challenged Carlos Beltran's arm from right field on Escobar's two-run triple. That ended the afternoon for Eovaldi, who yielded to Dellin Betances after 96 pitches.
"I felt good all game," Eovaldi said. "I felt like I made a good pitch to Dozier, a little bloop hit. Then 3-2 they were running and Plouffe was able to get the ground ball to the second baseman. First and third, Escobar was able to hit a good pitch, and they were able to score."
Santana shines: The Twins needed a strong outing from their staff ace to snap their skid, and Santana delivered in a big way, allowing two earned runs in 7 1/3 strong innings while striking out four to earn his second win of the season. Santana had entered the game with a 0-3 record and a 7.79 ERA in June and had allowed five earned runs in each of his last three starts. It was his longest outing since May 19 and only the second time this season that the Twins won with Santana on the mound.
"I was just trying to get zeros on the board," Santana said. "Trying to not think too much, and keep the ball down for the most part. My mechanics were better -- I've been working on that for the last couple of outings. I've figured myself out right now and everything was good."More >
Beltran, A-Rod whiff: The Yankees were banging on the door against Minnesota's bullpen in the eighth inning, as Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an error by pitcher Taylor Rogers, then screened the first baseman Plouffe to help induce another error. That brought the tying run to the plate, but Rogers recovered to strike out Beltran and right-hander Brandon Kintzlerfanned Rodriguez, with the slugger slamming his bat on home plate in frustration.
"Very disappointing," Rodriguez said. "We felt we had a good shot at getting a win today. We let one get away."
QUOTABLE "It's been preached a lot -- the dumb baseball players are the best baseball players. When you have your mind shut off and the thoughts are completely aside the game, you react to the stuff you need to and it's usually a good day." -- Max Kepler
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Santana has not issued a walk in three consecutive starts for the first time in his 12-year career. He issued at least one free pass in his first 10 starts of 2016.
REPLAY REVIEW Escobar continued his recent hot streak with a one-out triple down the right-field line in the bottom of the sixth inning that brought Dozier home from third to tie the game at 2-2. It was initially ruled that Plouffe, the trail runner, was tagged out by McCann at home, but a review of one minute, 17 seconds showed that Plouffe slid around McCann's tag. The call was overturned, crediting the Twins with the go-ahead run to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead.
"Initially, I thought I was safe," Plouffe said. "I didn't know if he caught my jersey or something like that, but I didn't feel him tag me. I try not to do that -- to point and say, 'Challenge it,' because I see guys do that all the time and they're out. So I try not to, but I couldn't help myself there. Luckily, I was safe."
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: The Yankees will enjoy an off-day on Monday before returning home, opening a two-game Interleague series with the Rockies. Ivan Nova (5-4, 4.77 ERA) and Chad Bettis(5-5, 5.63) will reprise their starting pitching matchup from June 15, when Colorado defeated the Yankees, 6-3, at Coors Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Twins: After a scheduled off-day Monday, the Twins will open a three-game series against the struggling Phillies on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT in the teams' first meeting since 2013. Right-hander Tyler Duffey (2-6, 5.56 ERA) will look to snap a streak of six straight starts in which he has allowed at least four earned runs.