Greg Bird was the hero as the Yankees won Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Minnesota Twins, 4-3, to record the sweep. It was their third win in three games against the Twins at Yankee Stadium and it was their sixth win in their last seven games overall. They have turned the corner from losing six of seven games from August 5-12.
Bird, who was playing in his fifth game, drove in all four runs that the Yankees scored against the Twins. In the fourth inning, Bird homered to right above the Fox Business sign in the second deck. In the sixth inning, in what was the game-winning homer, Bird hit a round tripper off of Twins starter Ervin Santana into the Yankees bullpen. Each of Bird’s homers came with two outs and Carlos Beltran on first.
Bird has a .333 average in 18 at-bats with four runs scored and five RBIs since being called up from Triple-A Scranton. When asked what his favorite part about his two homer afternoon was he said that what stood out most was that the team got the win. He credits his teammates with helping him quickly have success.
“My teammates, they are the best in the league,” the 22-year-old Bird said. “They have been very welcoming. They have made it an easy transition.” Bird’s production has made it so that the Yankees have not lost anything with Mark Teixeira out of the lineup due to his deep bone bruise.
Chase Headley (two hits) also had a multi-hit game, Stephen Drew had a hit after going 0-9 coming into the game and Jacoby Ellsbury‘s single to leadoff the game him a seven-game hitting streak. He is hitting 13-32 (.406) in his last seven games with three runs scored, three RBIs and one steal.
Nathan Eovaldi was the other standout performer in this afternoon’s game. He threw seven innings when the Yankees needed length out of him, allowed three runs on only four hits, and recorded eight strikeouts, which was his highest total since his second start of the season on April 15.
He threw a season-high 120 pitches, and Girardi likely let his pitch count escalate because the bullpen had pitched a lot recently and Eovaldi was on an extra day of rest. He allowed all three of his runs in the sixth inning. Joe Mauer hit a two-run single and Brian Dozier scored on Trevor Plouffe’s infield single.
Eovaldi had a perfect game through 5.1 innings. “The biggest thing that has helped Eovaldi has been his split,” Joe Girardi said. Locating his fastball and throwing his cutter, slider and curve is key for Eovaldi and his secondary pitches have been greatly improved in the last two months.
“I was able to locate the fastball,” Eovaldi said. “It is a great feeling. You compete and try to do your best for the team. In between starts I was concentrating on getting the split back on track.” He felt it worked well during the game.
Eovaldi threw 100 mph in four out of five pitches in one stretch. He was able to give the bullpen a break as only Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances pitched after he came out of the game after the seventh inning.
“He was awesome,” Betances said in reference to Eovaldi. “Electric from the first inning on. He came back on for the seventh, which was huge.” He was impressed that Eovaldi was able to throw 100 mph deep into the game. Betances, who pitched a scoreless ninth while striking out two and recording his eighth save of the season, is now the first Yankees reliever to ever record 100 strikeouts in back-to-back seasons.
The bullpen has a 2.90 ERA in 16 games and a .248 average against this month. The relief pitchers have been a key part of the team’s success this season and all of the key pitchers are throwing well right now.
The Yankees, who have the day off on Thursday, currently have 2 game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the AL East. Toronto lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, who have the worst record in all of baseball.