Derek Jeter donned his customary pinstripes for the first time in nine months and immediately contributed to a New York Yankees offense that seems rejuvenated after a short slump.
Jeter, though, will watch from the dugout this weekend due to a strained quadriceps as New York seeks a fifth straight victory over the struggling Twins on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
Jeter fractured his left ankle in Game 1 of the AL championship series against Detroit on Oct. 13. After an arduous rehabilitation process that included a setback in April when he fractured the ankle again, he had an infield single on the first pitch he saw and added an RBI groundout while making his season debut as the designated hitter in Thursday's 8-4 win over Kansas City.
He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning after feeling tightness following his third at-bat, and an MRI taken revealed a grade one strain of his right quad. With the All-Star break following this series, the Yankees opted to be cautious with their captain and hold him out to give him a full week of rest before deciding if he should go back on the disabled list.
"We'll have to give it some time and see how he responds," general manager Brian Cashman said Friday when announcing the results of the MRI.
The Yankees (50-42) scored eight times for the second straight game after finishing with one run in losing each of their previous three.
New York did just fine without Jeter the last time it faced the Twins, scoring 29 runs in a four-game sweep July 1-4. It has won seven of the last eight meetings with Minnesota, which will try to avoid a sixth straight defeat after falling 4-3 to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
The Twins (37-52) were no-hit until the sixth and finished with just four while losing for the 11th time in 12 tries.
"We've still got to put the ball in play better than we did the last couple of days, and that really affected the outcomes of games (during the four-game sweep),'' manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Minnesota will try to bounce back against Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda (7-6, 2.77 ERA), who has pitched at least seven innings without allowing a run five times. The right-hander gave up three hits in seven scoreless innings before Mariano Rivera allowed a two-run, ninth-inning homer to Adam Jones in a 2-1 loss to Baltimore on Sunday.
It was the second time in those five outings Kuroda lost a potential victory due to a blown save by Rivera.
Kuroda will be opposed by Scott Diamond (5-8, 5.52), who had one of his better outings July 1 when he gave up three runs while striking out five in 6 2-3 innings before Minnesota fell 10-4 to the Yankees.
Things didn't go so well for him Sunday, when he allowed six runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 11-5 loss to Toronto. The left-hander allowed three homers and has given up eight over his last four starts after permitting seven through his first 12.
Diamond is 1-4 with a 7.03 ERA over his last six outings.