Six-run 6th propels Yankees over Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Nathan Eovaldi pitched into the ninth inning, Chase Headley and Stephen Drew each homered and the Yankees improved to a season-high 13 games over .500 with a 7-2 victory over the Twins on Sunday at Target Field.
Drew hit a two-run homer and Headley lined a two-run single as part of a six-run sixth inning that knocked out Twins starter Kyle Gibson. That provided a large cushion for Eovaldi, who has received strong run support all season long and picked up his team-leading 10th victory.
"It was real nice. I feel like it's the best start I've had all year," Eovaldi said. "I had the fastball working, and I got a lot of swing and misses with my split as well. Jacoby Ellsbury had two great plays in the outfield early on, I was able to get double-play balls when I needed to. It was a big win for us."
Eovaldi limited the Twins to a pair of runs and eight hits over eight-plus innings, starting the ninth before being chased by Miguel Sano's leadoff double. Minnesota scored on Torii Hunter's third-inning RBI groundout and added a run in the ninth on a Trevor Plouffe single.
The Yankees took two of three games in the weekend set, outscoring Minnesota 15-2 over the final 15 innings of the series after the Twins had outscored New York 15-1 in the first 12 innings.
"To come out and get a lead for Evo and let him go to work, you get all seven RBIs from the bottom four guys in the lineup, that's good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We've talked about, we want to extend our lineup, and they did a really good job today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Banking on Chase: Both teams had little difficulty in making Target Field play like a smaller yard this weekend, and that power display continued in the fifth inning as Headley slugged his ninth home run, a solo shot to right. Headley followed in the sixth with a two-run single to right field that chased Gibson. In 16 games since July 1, Headley is 21-for-61 (.344) with 11 RBIs, hitting safely in 14 of those contests.
"I felt like I had swung the bat better than what it showed for a while," Headley said. "You know, you just stay the course, you work on the things you're not doing well, which I continue to do and will continue to do. It's a process, but I really didn't feel like I was swinging the bat as bad as what the numbers said."
Gibson labors: Gibson gave up just one run in the first five innings, but he made it hard for himself, allowing baserunners in all but one. He frequently had to pitch with the leadoff man on first, and in the sixth inning, it finally caught up to him. After Gardner led off the inning with a hit, Gibson threw eight of nine pitches for balls to load the bases, which led to the Yankees eventually breaking through.
"I felt pretty good until that sixth inning," Gibson said. "It's unfortunate that I kind of lost it there for three hitters -- and especially in a row. Really kind of turned what I felt like was going to be a pretty decent day into a pretty sour day." More >
Evolving Eovaldi: Before the game, Girardi credited Eovaldi's improving splitter and curveball for his recent run of success, and the right-hander made the skipper look good by striking out four of the first six hitters he faced. Eovaldi was able to keep his pitch count low and faced the minimum in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
"I just feel like I'm developing better as a pitcher," Eovaldi said. "I feel like that's one of the biggest issues. I feel like using the split has helped me out a lot. Working with [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild], Mac [Brian McCann] behind the plate, all of it together, I feel like it's helped me develop into a better pitcher." More >
Twins can't capitalize: The Twins scraped together just two runs off Eovaldi, despite having multiple opportunities and getting eight hits off the starter. In the third, after they had already scored once, Ellsbury laid out and robbed Joe Mauer of an RBI hit. In the eighth, they put the first two runners on before Hunter hit into a double play, and in the ninth, a game-ending double play halted a potential last-gasp rally.
"He kind of mixed in his fastball," Hunter said of Eovaldi. "Usually you mix in a splitty or offspeed. Today he pitched backward. A guy that throws 99 [mph] just mixing in a fastball and throwing all that offspeed, it kind of kept us off balance."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Twins are 5-16 against the Yankees in Minnesota since the opening of Target Field in 2010. They have not won a series against New York at the park.
Yankees: The Yankees will open a four-game series on Monday against the Rangers in Arlington at 8:05 p.m. ET, celebrating Alex Rodriguez's 40th birthday. Right-hander Ivan Nova (2-3, 3.34 ERA) will make his sixth start of the season, coming off a victory in which he held the Orioles to two earned runs over six innings on Wednesday.
Twins: The Twins will have an off-day Monday before picking up with Interleague Play. Mike Pelfrey gets the ball as the Twins welcome the Pirates into town for a two-game series beginning Tuesday at 7:10 CT. Pelfrey, 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA on the year, gave up four runs -- two earned -- in six innings his last time out.
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