With their star third baseman likely at least another day away from returning after knee surgery, the first-place Yankees look to win their third straight in this four-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night at Target Field.
New York (76-47) has scored eight runs in each of its two wins at Minnesota, the latest 8-1 on Friday. The Yankees, who have a one-half game lead over Boston in the AL East, have totaled 45 runs and 78 hits while winning five of six overall.
That potent offensive stretch has allowed the Yankees to be patient with Rodriguez, who appears likely to return for either Sunday’s finale or Tuesday’s opener with Oakland. New York is 25-12 since Rodriguez last played July 7.
“We’re definitely getting close,” Rodriguez said. “We’re definitely on track to do something, hopefully, this weekend.”
Rodriguez watched as Russell Martin(notes) homered twice, Mark Teixeira(notes) added three RBIs and Phil Hughes(notes) pitched 7 2-3 strong innings Friday as the Yankees won for the fourth straight time and 10th in 11 games at Minnesota, including the postseason.
Teixeira, who drove in his 1,000th career run Friday, is 4 for 7 with five RBIs in the series. Derek Jeter(notes), meanwhile, recorded his second straight two-hit game and is 19 for 37 (.514) in his last eight.
Martin has homered three times in his last two games.
“See the ball. Hit the ball,” Martin said. “That’s really all I’ve been doing.”
New York’s A.J. Burnett(notes) (9-9, 4.61 ERA) will try to win back-to-back starts for the first time since April. He allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings of Monday’s 7-4 victory at Kansas City to earn his first win since June 29.
“It makes you feel a part of it,” said Burnett, who went 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in seven starts between wins. “There are a lot of things to keep you not too content, but yeah, it feels good.”
The right-hander has felt good while going 4-1 with a 3.03 ERA in 10 regular season and playoff starts versus Minnesota. He gave up two runs in six innings of a 4-3 win over the Twins on April 7, and three hits in five innings of a 1-0 win at Target Field on May 25, 2010.
“Not a good baseball game,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Pretty much dominated.”
Scheduled Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano(notes) (8-9, 5.12) is 0-3 with a 4.37 ERA in six starts versus New York, including the postseason. The left-hander allowed four runs in five innings opposite Burnett at Yankee Stadium in April.
Liriano, 4-2 with a 5.33 ERA over his last nine starts, yielded five runs in six innings but still earned the win in Monday’s 9-6 victory at Detroit.
Jeter is 6 for 15 with two doubles and a home run against Liriano in the regular season.
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