Six days ago, Gerrit Cole was nearly perfect in one of the most dominant starts of his career on a day when he took the mound after Jameson Taillon also was nearly perfect.

This time, Cole is pitching following a rare imperfect performance by the New York Yankees, who will look to avoid their fourth losing streak of the season Thursday night when they face the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis in the rubber game of a three-game series.

Cole (5-1, 2.78 ERA) is coming off his most dynamic start as a Yankee when he retired the first 20 Detroit Tigers in a 13-0 win on Friday. Cole wound up allowing two hits in seven innings to go along with nine strikeouts and heads into Thursday with a 2.03 ERA over his past eight starts.

“It was a pretty exciting night,” Cole said. “The fans were in it, I heard them chanting my name, which was pretty magical.”

Cole’s flirtation with history ended when Jonathan Schoop singled the night after Taillon set down the first 21 hitters against the Los Angeles Angels.

Those outings were part of a seven-game winning streak that followed consecutive losses at Tampa Bay. The Yankees had their second-longest winning streak snapped when they mustered four hits in Wednesday’s 8-1 loss as sluggers Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton were a combined 0-for-10 after each homered in Tuesday’s series-opening 10-4 win.

“That’s a good team,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Twins, who lead the American League Central. “We’ve got to play well to beat them.”

Cole is 3-0 with an 0.95 ERA in three career starts against the Twins. He pitched six innings of two-run ball exactly one year ago in Minnesota and tossed six scoreless innings Aug. 21 in New York.

The Twins hope to join the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox as the third team to hand the Yankees a series loss. Baltimore took two of three at home from New York April 15-17, and Chicago swept a doubleheader May 22 in New York to win a series over the Yankees.

The Yankees have won or split 15 of their first 17 series, but the Twins are in position to claim the series after pulling away Wednesday. Jose Miranda drove in three runs while Ryan Jeffers and Byron Buxton hit solo homers off Nestor Cortes.

“They’re tough to score runs against,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Just a good night.”

Buxton also had Minnesota’s first hit off Cortes, and over his past seven games, he is hitting .321 (9-for-28). Miranda also is batting .390 (16-for-41) over his past 13 contests.

The Twins produced their big night with MLB batting leader Luis Arraez (.361) sitting out with shoulder tightness. Arraez was injured Tuesday and is expected to play Thursday.

Dylan Bundy (3-3, 5.57 ERA), who is 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA over his past six starts, will take the mound for Minnesota. Bundy began his first season with the Twins by going 3-0 with an 0.59 ERA in his initial three outings but was rocked for six runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings in a 12-3 loss Saturday at Toronto.

Bundy is 2-6 with a 6.42 ERA in 15 career appearances (12 starts) against the Yankees, whom he last beat on May 29, 2017, as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. The right-hander last opposed them in a pair of relief appearances with the Los Angeles Angels last June.

–Field Level Media