Cano looks for a seventh consecutive multihit effort to cap this trip Thursday as he tries to help the Yankees complete a four-game sweep and hand the Twins a fifth straight defeat.
New York (45-39) was swept over three games in Baltimore to start the trip before bouncing back in this series behind its star second baseman.
Cano is 14 for 24 over the last six games, including 7 for 11 with three homers and eight RBIs against Minnesota. The No. 3 hitter is puzzled that the Twins (36-45) continue to pitch to him, and Yankees cleanup hitters behind him are 4 for 13 with no extra-base hits or RBIs in this series.
“The only way you can look at it is it’s a team that’s not in the race,” Cano said. “So maybe when you’re in the race, the last thing you want is the same guy to beat you twice or the third hitter beat you. Maybe I would say that’s the difference. They’re taking their chances: ‘All right, let’s pitch to him.’”
The last time Cano had a longer run of multihit games was a nine-game stretch to close 2012 as he hit an astounding .615 with three homers, 14 RBIs and 11 runs scored.
He had a tying two-run double as part of New York’s three-run sixth inning in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory. The Yankees won despite being outhit 8-4 as the Twins went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position to drop to 4 for 27 in this series.
All three wins this week have been closed out by Mariano Rivera who has improved to 28 for 29 on save chances but likely won’t be available Thursday to pitch for a fourth straight day.
This is New York’s second four-game set at Target Field, where it is 12-3 all-time including two playoff victories. The Yankees’ last four-game sweep in Minnesota was at the Metrodome from April 18-21, 2003.
Those Minnesota hitters have never faced New York starter David Phelps (5-5, 4.95 ERA), who surrendered a career-worst nine runs over 2 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 11-3 defeat to the Orioles. Phelps had been 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA over his previous four starts.
Twins rookie starter Kyle Gibson (1-0, 3.00) makes his second career appearance after allowing two runs over six innings in Saturday’s 6-2 home victory over Kansas City in his big-league debut.
The right-hander was a 2009 first-round pick who had to bounce back from Tommy John surgery during his time in the minors before becoming the first Minnesota first-rounder to win a start in his debut.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a while, and I’m sure he has, too,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.