The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 7-2, on Sunday afternoon at Target Field in what Nathan Eovaldi said was his best start this season. He pitched eight innings (including a leadoff double to Miguel Sano in the ninth) and allowed only two runs while striking out five on 100 pitches. It was the first time that he had pitched more than 7.1 innings this season.
Eovaldi has now allowed two runs or less in six of his last seven starts, which has lowered his ERA from 5.12 to a much more respectable 4.27. During this start, he was able to strike out four of the first six batters that he faced and didn’t allow an extra base hit until Sano’s double in the ninth.
“I thought his split was outstanding and I thought he used his curve ball effectively,” Joe Girardi said. “He is very strong and doesn’t lose velocity as the game goes along. He is getting strikeouts on his split, which is always important for a pitcher when you can get strikeouts when you need them. I think he has improved all year.”
The first run that the Twins scored off of Eovaldi was a an RBI groundout by Torii Hunter that scored Aaron Hicks in the third inning. Trevor Plouffe’s RBI single that scored Sano in the ninth was also charged to Eovaldi. He has really improved his splitter in his last seven starts, which has helped him record a 5-0 record, 2.83 ERA and a .245 batting average against in that span.
“I had the fastball working both sides of the plate and I got swings and misses with my split,” Eovaldi said. “I was getting early chases in the count and got big double play balls when I needed to.”
Carlos Beltran, who doubled to right center, was on third with one out in the second, but the fact that he was stranded at third by Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius did not end up hurting the Yankees. Headley, who was 2-4 and is hitting .344 with 11 RBIs in July, hit a homer to the concourse in right off of Twins starter Kyle Gibson in the fifth inning to tie the score at one. The Yankees scored six runs in the sixth inning to help give them the win.
Garrett Jones hit an RBI single to give the Yankees a 2-1 advantage, Headley singled to right to score Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann, Didi Gregorius hit a safety squeeze bunt for an RBI that drove in Garrett Jones and then Stephen Drew hit a two-run homer to give the Yankees their seventh run. Drew (.188 average) now has 13 homers, which is second most among all second basemen in the American League.
Eovaldi now has so much confidence in his split-fingered fastball that he shook off the slider in the first and threw the splitter to strike out Hunter.
“Eovaldi has been great for us,” Headley said. “It is fun to watch him when he gets the ball.”
Dellin Betances, who got all three outs in the ninth inning, got Kurt Suzuki to hit into a double play to end the game as Eddie Rosario was doubled off of first after a catch and throw by Headley.
“Great win for us,” Headley said. “I think you stay the course. Keep working hard and know the results will come.” That was what Headley said in reference to his recent offensive improvement.
This was the team’s sixth consecutive series win. The Yankees have a 7-2 record with 4.6 runs runs per game and a solid 3.71 ERA since the All-Star break. Their 14-5 record in July is also the best in all of baseball.
The Yankees (55-42) now have a 6.5 game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays (50-50) and a 7 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. They will play the first of four games against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park tonight at 8:05 p.m. EST.