(SportsNetwork.com) – With a chance to earn their first series win since mid- June, the New York Yankees will take on the Minnesota Twins in the third test of a four-game set at Target Field on Saturday.
The Yankees rolled out to a 6-1 lead over the Twins on Friday, but nearly let it disappear, before surviving with a 6-5 victory. The win was the second in a row for New York. which dropped five-straight entering the set and has not won a series since sweeping Toronto on June 17-19.
Brian Roberts was the catalyst for the Yankees in the victory on Friday, as he went 4-for-5 with a RBI and two runs scored. His RBI double in the top of the first began a three-run inning. The Yankees would add three more runs in the second on a sacrifice fly from Brendan Ryan and a two-run single from Jacoby Ellsbury.
The Twins cut into the early deficit quickly, forcing New York starter Chase Whitely out after three innings. Brian Dozier launched his 16th home run of the season in the first and the Twins tacked on three more runs over the second and third innings.
Chris Colabello, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester earlier in the week to replace the injured Joe Mauer, went 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in the contest, but he missed a golden opportunity to tie the game when he grounded out to second with runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the eighth. Although Eduardo Nunez scored on the play, it was not enough, with the next batter, Eduardo Escobar, grounding out to end the inning.
David Robertson then shut the door by striking out the side in a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 20th save of the season for the Yankees.
Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson was on the hook for the loss as he was lit up for six runs, five of which were earned, on six hits in just two innings of work.
The Twins have lost three straight and nine of their last 11 games.
David Phelps will match the number of starts he made last season when he takes the mound for the Yankees on Saturday.
Phelps, who started 23 of the 55 games he pitched in his first two Major League seasons, has carved out a spot in New York’s rotation and will likely stay there given the uncertainty of CC Sabathia.
Thanks to injuries to both Sabathia and Michael Pineda, Phelps’ last 11 outings have come as a starter following nine relief outings in April. As a starter he is 3-4 with an ERA of 4.34.
The right-hander rarely goes deep into ball games, with just two starts lasting into the seventh inning. He gutted out 5 2/3 innings his last time out, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks against Tampa Bay. Phelps did not factor in the decision, but the Yankees lost 4-3. They are now 3-8 in games in which Phelps has started.
Phelps’ only other outing against Minnesota came almost exactly a year ago, when he allowed four runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 9-5 win for New York on July 4 of last season.
An up and down week will continue for Yohan Pino when he starts for Minnesota opposite Phelps. Pino was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start last Monday against Kansas City. The call up came just days after Pino was sent back down following a start against the Angels. Pino was brought back to the Major League level following the placement of shortstop Danny Santana on the 15-day disabled list.
Pino, a 30-year-old right-hander from Venezuela, made his first career start earlier this season when he let up only two runs and struck out seven batters across seven innings on June 19. His next two starts did not go as well as he allowed nine runs on 14 hits in a combined 8 2/3 innings in losses to the Angels and Royals. He is now 0-2 with a 6.32 ERA on the campaign.
Saturday’s matchup is the sixth of the season between these teams. Minnesota took two out of three from New York at Yankees Stadium earlier in the campaign.