In sole possession of the American League’s top wild-card spot, many components are coming together for the New York Yankees these days.
The Yankees seek their season-high seventh straight victory Thursday night when they host the Minnesota Twins in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
New York is on its second six-game winning streak of the season after completing a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox with Wednesday’s 5-2 victory when Andrew Heaney pitched seven impressive innings, Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run single in his return from the COVID-19 injured list and Andrew Velazquez hit a pair of RBI singles.
Wednesday’s win put the Yankees one game up on the Oakland Athletics. They are on an 18-5 surge since blowing a four-run lead in Boston on July 25.
“Obviously it’s great to sweep the Red Sox in a three-game series but we want to win no matter who we’re facing,” Heaney said.
New York’s starting pitching owns a 2.84 ERA (64 earned runs/203 innings) in its past 39 games and has allowed three earned runs or less in 34 of those games heading into Jameson Taillon’s start on Thursday.
Taillon (7-4, 3.89 ERA) is seeking his seventh straight win and looks to continue his impressive turnaround. Taillon was 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA through his first 12 starts, but since being unable to get out of the first inning on June 12 in Philadelphia, he is 6-0 with a 2.37 ERA over his past 11 starts.
During Taillon’s unbeaten streak, he has allowed two earned runs or fewer nine times. He allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts before allowing three runs on seven hits in five innings during a no-decision on Saturday against the Chicago White Sox.
“I didn’t carry my weight necessarily for the first couple of months,” Taillon said Wednesday. “I’m glad that I can at least contribute here in the second half when it really matters.”
Taillon is 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota. His previous outing against the Twins occurred June 14, 2018 for Pittsburgh when he allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings of a 5-2 loss.
The Twins will be involved in the AL East standings for the next seven games as they visit the Red Sox after this weekend’s series. Minnesota completed a 6-3 homestand with an 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians Wednesday afternoon when Jorge Polanco hit a game-ending RBI single in the 11th inning, marking Minnesota’s third straight win on a Polanco game-ending hit.
Despite Minnesota’s sub-par record, Polanco has been productive of late by hitting .304 (51-for-168) with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in his last 42 games since July 1.
“He’s a special hitter,” Minnesota slugger Miguel Sano said of Polanco. “In those moments, he needs to take care of the team, and he puts it on his back, and he knows what he needs to do.”
Sano also homered Wednesday and has reached safely in 19 of his past 21 games, totaling five homers and 17 RBIs in that stretch.
John Gant will face the Yankees for the first time and is making his 15th start this season and first with the Twins, who obtained him at the trade deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals for J.A. Happ.
Gant has a 4.15 ERA in seven appearances since the trade and was 4-6 with a 3.76 ERA in 14 starts before the deal.
–Field Level Media