Andrew Velazquez described it succinctly when asked what it is like on the field for the New York Yankees these days.
“A lot of smiles,” the shortstop said Thursday after New York’s 7-5 win over the Minnesota Twins.
The Yankees attempt to keep the good times rolling and seek an eighth straight win Friday night when they continue a four-game series with the visiting Twins.
The Yankees extended their season-best streak going by taking a six-run lead before holding on. Luke Voit hit a two-run double while manning the leadoff spot in place of a resting DJ LeMahieu, Kyle Higashioka homered and drove in three runs and Velazquez had two hits and scored twice.
New York is riding a 19-5 surge since losing three of four at Boston from July 22-25, fueled by an ability to win close games.
Six of the past seven victories were by one or two runs, and the other was a 5-2 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday. The Yankees are a major-league-best 46-23 in games decided by two runs or fewer and an impressive 19-4 in such games since the All-Star break.
“They’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of his players. “And I think everyone shows up with the mindset of this is about we, this is about us, this is about getting a win. They know what they’re capable of, and I feel like their purpose and their focus and their energy is all poured into winning. I do feel like they’re playing with a lot of confidence that we expect to do something special.”
Minnesota began its seven-game trip Thursday by getting a big night from Jorge Polanco. The second baseman drove in three runs and is 9-for-20 (.450) with seven RBIs in his past four games.
“By the last couple innings, we were an at-bat and a swing away from tying the ballgame and maybe even winning a ballgame like that,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We spotted them probably maybe a couple too many runs.”
Miguel Sano hit his 10th career homer against the Yankees but likely will miss the rest of the series. Sano is expected to be placed on the paternity list after his wife gave birth to a daughter Thursday. He is due to rejoin the team in Boston for a series that starts Tuesday.
“I want to be with my baby girl a little bit,” Sano said. “It’s really exciting. I don’t know how to explain.”
New York’s Nestor Cortes Jr. (1-1, 2.55 ERA) will look to continue his success as a starting pitcher. He is 1-1 with a 2.73 ERA in six starts this year. On Sunday, Cortes allowed one run on seven hits in a season-high six innings during a 5-3 win against the Chicago White Sox. He threw 98 pitches, struck out seven and walked one.
The crafty left-hander has made a pair of relief appearances against the Twins in his career, compiling a 3.38 ERA.
Minnesota rookie Charlie Barnes (0-2, 4.91 ERA) will make his fifth career appearance and fourth career start. Barnes produced his longest outing on Sunday, when he allowed one run on three hits in five innings and took a no-decision in Minnesota’s 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The outing lowered his ERA by more than a run.
–Field Level Media