Bye-bye, Birdie: Two-HR day carries Yanks
NEW YORK -- It was the biggest day of Greg Bird's six-day-old Major League career Wednesday, when he notched his first Major League homer in the fourth inning, only to follow it up with another two-run shot in the sixth, lifting the Yankees to a 4-3 win over the Twins.
The Yankees took a 2-0 lead when Bird homered to right field to score Carlos Beltran. The Twins rallied and took the lead with a a three-run sixth inning that featured every Twins batter heading to the plate. Joe Mauer picked up two RBIs and Trevor Plouffe chipped in one, but the lead was already gone by the end of the inning.
Bird's second homer of his career -- another two-run shot -- put the Yankees ahead for good, allowing them to complete the three-game sweep.
"We're just trying to win games here and anything I can do to help, that's all I'm trying to do. Nothing more, nothing less," Bird said of the Yankees, who hold a tight lead atop the American League East. "It's really, really an honor to play for these guys, to be in a pennant race and to be with this great group of guys." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Another strong one for Eovaldi: Nathan Eovaldi has been one of the Yankees' most consistent pitchers, having just two losses to his name. He gave the Yankees another strong outing Wednesday, barring the sixth inning, when the Twins' offense pounced for four hits and two walks. Eovaldi threw five perfect frames before relinquishing a single to Chris Herrmann in the sixth. He ended the day after seven innings with four hits, two walks and eight strikeouts. Of the 120 pitches he threw, 83 were strikes.
"In between starts, I was working on the split because my last start, I didn't feel as well with it. I feel like I got back on track with that," Eovaldi said. "My location my last start, I just didn't feel very good in general. This start, I felt good. I threw two sides in between and feel like I got where I needed to be."
Twins break through: Herrmann broke up Eovaldi's perfect-game bid with a one-out bloop single to left. The Twins ended up loading the bases with two outs, and Mauer came through with a two-run single to tie the game. Plouffe gave the Twins a short-lived lead with an infield single with the bases loaded.
"I know they got the three runs, it wasn't like he gave up a bunch of hard-hit balls, and that's part of it though," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That's part of it and a mistake that maybe he made was the pitch that he got up to Mauer, that was a little mistake that he made."
Hicks leaves with injury: Twins leadoff hitter Aaron Hicks left the game in the sixth inning with a left hamstring strain while running to first base, and was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game. Hicks tried to beat out a throw on a grounder to third, but came up lame after reaching first base. Top prospect Byron Buxton was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to replace Hicks on the roster. More >
"It's all about who can be on the field right now and produce right now," Hicks said. "We don't have time to wait around for me. We need guys who can come up here and play now."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Dellin Betances became the first Yankees reliever to strike out 100 batters in back-to-back seasons when he led off the ninth inning with a whiff of Plouffe. En route to his eighth save of the year, Betances also recorded a swinging strikeout of Eddie Rosario and an infield popup from Eduardo Escobar to end the game. Betances notched 135 strikeouts in 70 games last year and has 101 in 56 appearances this season.
"He really wasn't that good in the bullpen so going out to the game you don't know if it's going to be good or bad. It was really good from pitch No. 1, so we knew pretty early." -- Yankees catcher John Ryan Murphy, on Eovaldi
"We have to move forward. It's a tough way to open a long road trip. But there's no room for self-pity. We have to dig a little deeper and then get ready for Baltimore." -- Twins manager Paul Molitor, on the three-game sweep
Twins: Minnesota heads to Baltimore for a four-game series that starts Thursday at 6:05 p.m. CT. Rookie right-hander Tyler Duffey starts for the Twins in the series opener and is coming off his first career win. He held the Indians to one hit over six scoreless innings on Saturday in his second career start.
Yankees: Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.57 ERA) heads to the mound for the series opener with Cleveland on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Nova is coming off of a win in Toronto, where he threw seven innings of five-hit ball and gave up three earned runs. Against the Indians, Nova has just one career start, a win.
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