Saturday, June 18, 2016

Yankees come out swinging, bury Twins

The first three Yankees to hit all came around to score against Minnesota left-hander Pat Dean as part of a four-run first inning, and New York never looked back en route to an 8-2 rout at Target Field on Friday night that secured the Yanks at least a split of the four-game series.
"I need to stay aggressive, and I can't let things like tonight happen where I let the game speed up on me," said Dean, who was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game. "I need to slow it down and keep in control of the pace of the game, and I let this one get away from me."
Carlos Beltran led the way offensively for the Yankees with three hits, including a two-run home run -- his team-leading 17th of the season -- before being lifted for a pinch-runner in the sixth. Didi Gregorius and Austin Romine also drove in two runs apiece in support of right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (4-2), who allowed one run through eight strong innings to bounce back from a rough start against the Tigers and secure his fifth quality start in his last six outings.
"[The run support] helped me out mentally," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "As a starting pitcher, being on the mound you want to put up as many zeros as possible. That's what I was trying to do all night."
Minnesota scored its first run in the second inning after Trevor Plouffe singled, moved to third on Eduardo Escobar's double and came home on a groundout by Max Kepler. After missing a homer on that double by a matter of feet, Escobar later drilled a no-doubter into the right-field bleachers in the ninth for his first long ball of the season.
Escobar finished 3-for-4 for his third three-hit game of the season and his first since May 24 against Kansas City. He was the only Twins hitter to record multiple hits on the night.
"Even [Escobar's] flyout was a relatively good at-bat," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "He's not getting a lot of playing time, and he took advantage tonight of a chance to play and perform."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Everybody hits: Each member of the Yankees' starting lineup tallied at least one hit, beginning in the first, when Jacoby Ellsbury singled and scored on a Rob Refsnyderdouble before Beltran followed with his blast. Romine's two-run double highlighted a three-run rally in the third inning as New York pulled away.
"I think it's important. It allows the pitcher to relax a little bit, and every pitch isn't the end of the world," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "To be able to give [Tanaka] seven runs pretty quickly was nice."
Rogers rights the ship: After the Yankees scored in three of the first four innings off of Dean and right-hander Neil Ramirez, southpaw Taylor Rogers entered the game for the Twins and pitched the first 1-2-3 inning on either side by inducing three flyouts in the fifth. It was a welcome return to form for Rogers, who allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning in his last outing against the Angels.
Rogers and three other Twins relievers -- Kevin JepsenBuddy Boshers and Michael Tonkin -- combined for five shutout innings to close out the game.
"The guys I brought in for the last five innings, we were able to hold them to eight, if you want to look at that as a highlight," Molitor said. "The guys that came in, and Rogers sticks out to me, threw clean innings."
At home on the road: Tanaka has been excellent this season when working away from Yankee Stadium, and an early cushion in the spacious confines of Target Field probably made the right-hander feel even more comfortable. Tanaka scattered seven hits as he cruised in a five-strikeout, no-walk effort, improving to 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA and no homers allowed in seven road starts this season.
"There's seasons where you do well at home, and there's seasons where you do better away on the road," Tanaka said. "Throughout my career, it's been like that. Maybe this season has been something like that, but I don't really look into that much." More >
In the nick of time: With his single in his last at-bat in the eighth, Joe Mauer extended his on-base streak to a Major League-best 28 games. He also achieved the feat in a stretch from April 4-May 4 earlier this season.
"It didn't look like he was getting a very good look at [Tanaka], but he found a way to get a hit," Molitor said.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• By extending his streak, Mauer became just the third Twin to record multiple such streaks of at least 28 games in a single season, joining Lenny Green (1961) and Rod Carew (1977).
• The Yankees have won each of their last seven games against the Twins dating to last year, and they have won 20 of 25 games at Target Field since it opened in 2010 (including the postseason).
WHAT'S NEXT
Yankees: Right-hander Michael Pineda gets the ball on Saturday as the Yankees and Twins play the third game of their four-game series in Minneapolis at 2:10 p.m. ET. Pineda has been on a roll of late, compiling a 2.89 ERA over his last three starts spanning 18 2/3 innings. He's 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three career starts against the Twins.
Twins: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco will take the mound for Minnesota at 1:10 p.m. CT. He owns a 7.88 career ERA in two starts against the Yankees, but he will have a chance at his third quality start of June after holding the Angels to three runs in six innings in his last outing.

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