Yankees-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

The Twin Cities continue to bring out the best in the New York Yankees.

After climbing back over .500, the Yankees go for an eighth consecutive road win against the last-place Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

New York (43-42) had lost a season-worst five straight and nine of 11 before opening this four-game set with back-to-back victories. Brian Roberts and Francisco Cervelli were a combined 7 for 9 with three runs scored as the Yankees held on for a 6-5 win Friday.

"Hitting is contagious. I think it goes both ways," said Roberts, batting .314 with nine extra-base hits - including two homers - over a 13-game stretch. "When a couple guys start struggling, sometimes everybody starts struggling. A couple guys start hitting, it can kind of roll. So hopefully we'll fall in that direction."

The Yankees have won seven straight and 19 of 22 in Minnesota since the start of 2009, including the playoffs. They put together a nine-game winning streak there spanning the 2002 and '03 seasons that includes two postseason victories.

Mark Teixeira, 3 for 8 with two runs and an RBI over the last two days, has always hit the Twins hard. He has 20 homers and 59 RBIs in 69 games against Minnesota to go along with a .371 average, by far his highest against any AL club.

Jacoby Ellsbury added two RBIs on Friday and Brett Gardner scored twice.

"We've said all along these guys are good hitters, and eventually it's going to turn," said manager Joe Girardi, whose team averaged 2.6 runs during its five-game skid.

New York will try to stay hot against 30-year-old rookie Yohan Pino (0-2, 6.32 ERA), who is winless over three outings since getting called up from Triple-A Rochester on June 27. The right-hander has dropped back-to-back starts after yielding four runs over 5 2-3 innings in Monday's 6-1 defeat to Kansas City.

The Yankees counter with David Phelps (3-4, 4.26), who surrendered two solo homers over 5 2-3 innings in Monday's 4-3, 12-inning loss to Tampa Bay. The right-hander has allowed two or zero runs in three of his last four starts, going 2-0 with a 3.70 ERA.

Phelps yielded four runs over 6 1-3 innings in his only appearance against Minnesota, earning the win in a 9-5 road victory last July 4. He would appear to have a favorable matchup against a Twins team that's dropped three straight and nine of 11.

Brian Dozier and Chris Colabello homered Friday, but the Twins went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They're hitting .169 in such situations over the last 10 games.

Minnesota, which left seven men on base, stuck with it after falling behind 6-1 in the second inning.

"When you get behind like that, it's an uphill battle the whole way," manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB's official website. "I'm pleased the guys kept competing, but unfortunately it's another loss."

Minnesota is set to honor retiring Yankees captain Derek Jeter before this game with a farewell gift. Jeter, given a routine day off to rest Friday, is 3 for his last 21 at Target Field.

Yankees catcher Brian McCann could also return after sitting out with a sore foot. He's hitting .200 with no homers and just five RBIs during a 15-game stretch on the road.

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