Yanks look for second straight win in MinnesotaWhitley takes the hill as Bombers hope to move over .500
The Yankees look to move back above .500 and continue their road dominance of the last-place Twins on Friday in the second of a four-game set.
New York (42-42) came into this series batting .223 overall and .141 with runners in scoring position while averaging 3.1 runs over a 2-9 stretch. The Yankees scored 13 runs during a five-game home slide prior to this 11-game trip leading into the All-Star break.
So far, a change of venue has worked for the Yankees, but playing at Minnesota in particular seems to be the key.
New York pounded the Twins (38-46) again Thursday, collecting 10 hits with two homers while going 3 for 4 with runners in scoring position - driving in six - in a 7-4 victory.
"We have to find a way to score more runs. There's no doubt about that. We played very poor at home," said designated hitter Carlos Beltran, who hit a three-run homer.
Scoring hasn't been a problem for the Yankees in Minnesota, where they've won 15 of their past 18 while hitting .283 with 24 homers and 5.7 runs per game.
They've won six straight at Target Field while scoring 44 runs. New York last won seven straight in Minneapolis from 2002-03 at the Metrodome.
Another strong performance from 27-year-old Zelous Wheeler could help New York match that run. He connected for a solo homer for one of his two hits in a stirring major league debut Thursday after spending nearly eight years in the minors.
"It felt great. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time, and hopefully I can take advantage of it," said Wheeler, who replaced a struggling Yangervis Solarte at third base after he was demoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday.
The Twins have dropped eight of 10 and will turn to Kyle Gibson (7-6, 3.77 ERA) to try quieting the Yankees, but he's allowed 11 runs over 10 1-3 innings while splitting his first two career meetings with them.
The right-hander was touched for eight runs and 11 hits before being pulled with one out in the sixth of a 9-5 home loss last July 4th.
Gibson, though, is 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA in six home starts, and he's 2-0 with a 0.45 ERA over his last three, tossing 15 consecutive scoreless innings.
Each of his last four starts, however, have come on the road, and he went 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA after allowing two runs in eight innings of Sunday's 3-2 win at Texas.
"All I did was try to give my team a chance to win and turn things around," Gibson said of stopping Minnesota's five-game slide.
New York will counter with Chase Whitley (3-2, 4.70), who has lost back-to-back starts by surrendering 13 runs and 19 hits in 7 1-3 innings after winning three straight behind a 2.75 ERA.
Perhaps facing the Twins can get the rookie right-hander untracked. He allowed one run with six strikeouts in five innings but did not get a decision in a 7-2 home win over Minnesota on June 1.
This time he'll have to contend with Chris Parmelee, who is hitting .440 during a 13-game hitting streak after getting an RBI double Thursday.
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Carlos Beltran DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Francisco Cervelli C
Kelly Johnson 3B
Brendan Ryan SS
Chase Whitley RHP
Brian Dozier 2B
Kurt Suzuki C
Chris Parmelee LF
Kendrys Morales 1B
Oswaldo Arcia RF
Trevor Plouffe 3B
Chris Colabello DH
Eduardo Escobar SS
Sam Fuld CF
Kyle Gibson RHP