Saturday, June 25, 2016

Yanks pounce on error as arms baffle Twins

Though the Yankees struggled to cobble together offense against the Twins on Saturday afternoon, they came away with a 2-1 win at Yankee Stadium after Eduardo Escobar booted a grounder off the bat of Starlin Castro in the eighth inning, allowing Aaron Hicks to score the go-ahead run.
"It was hit hard," Escobar said through an interpreter. "At that point, there's not much you can do other than throw your glove at it. That's not an excuse, but it was hit pretty hard."
For as inconsistent as the Yankees' offense was, their pitching was terrific. Right-handerMichael Pineda allowed just two hits through six innings of one-run ball before handing the ball to the bullpen. Dellin BetancesAndrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman took care of the rest, mowing down nine of the final 10 Twins batters. Chapman allowed a two-out single toJoe Mauer, which ended the trio's perfect streak over the last three games.
"I want to pitch longer in the game and try to pitch longer to give [the bullpen] a little rest because those guys are working hard," Pineda said. "It feels good when you have three guys down in the bullpen so good."
With the loss, the Twins dropped their third in a row. The main culprit was their offense, which managed just three hits with 12 strikeouts, and Brian Dozier accounting for the only run on a second-inning homer.
They'll take it: The Yankees hit 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position but were able to capture the victory thanks to a bit of a luck. After Alex Rodriguez led off the bottom of the eighth with an infield single on a slow dribbler to right field, Aaron Hicks pinch-ran for him and reached third on Brian McCann's single. Hicks came around to score when Escobar committed his second error of the game.
"It was big, especially with the back end of our bullpen," McCann said. "We know if we get one, we like our chances."
Eduar-no: It's been a rough series for Escobar. He committed two more fielding errors at shortstop, including the critical boot of a potential inning-ending double-play ball in the eighth. He had a fielding error in Friday's loss as well.
"He's got a very accurate throwing arm and his hands are, most of the time, reliable," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "He's made a couple of plays that have cost us recently, but the numbers are still respectable as far as percentage and those types of things. Just had a couple of rough days."
Like Mike? Pineda has been inconsistent in 2016, alternating flashes of brilliance with bouts of ineffectiveness. Aside from surrendering the solo shot to Dozier, Pineda was dominant. He struck out eight and retired the final seven batters he faced before ceding the game to the bullpen after 94 pitches.
"He got a homer, so I was walking behind the mound, and I said 'OK,'" Pineda said. "I want to throw my best pitches right now and give the opportunity to my teammates."
"I thought his changeup was good today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought he located his fastball for the most part. But it can mean a lot. He's got really good stuff. The mistakes he's made have really cost him."
Dozier starts with a bang: On a day where Minnesota's offense could only muster three hits against Pineda and the Yankees' bullpen machine, Dozier had one of the lone bright spots with a homer projected by Statcast™ at 395 feet. In doing so, he extended his on-base streak to 18 games, third-longest in the American League.
"We just didn't square up a lot of balls," Molitor said. "Dozier got us on the board and Kurt [Suzuki] had a single there along the way, but not a lot of opportunities."
After the Yankees scored the go-ahead run in the eighth, they had an opportunity to add to the lead when Chase Headley stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded and one out. He lofted a fly ball to left field, prompting McCann to tag up from third base. He was ruled out after a good throw from Robbie Grossman, a call that was confirmed on a manager's challenge.
"I've got huge speed." -- McCann, talking about his mad dash home in the eighth inning when he was ruled out on a close play
Twins: A struggling Tyler Duffey (2-6, 6.18 ERA) will get what could be his last chance to prove he belongs in Minnesota's starting rotation when he takes the mound for the 12:05 p.m. CT series finale on Sunday. He allowed a season-high six runs in a season-low three innings to Philadelphia's struggling offense in his last outing Tuesday.
Yankees: Nathan Eovaldi (6-4, 5.02 ERA) takes the ball in the series finale Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET. The hard-throwing right-hander looks to get back on track after taking the loss against the Twins last Sunday, when he allowed four earned runs on six hits.

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