The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Archive for May, 2014

Postgame notes: “He’s at the top”05.31.14

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka refuses to call himself the ace of the Yankees pitching staff, but with each start, his role becomes more and more obvious.

“He’s at the top,” Brian McCann said. “He’s a top-of-the-rotation starter. He doesn’t need to be (called) an ace here or an ace there. He just takes the ball every fifth day and continues to impress everybody around here.”

Eight innings without an earned run today. He struck out nine and walked two. After giving up seven home runs in his first six starts, he’s now gone five straight without a homer. He’s pitched 11 times in the major leagues and already has eight wins.

“Wow,” Yangervis Solarte said. “Perfect.”

Maybe not quite perfect, but awfully close.

Tanaka is the first Yankees pitcher since 1913 — when earned runs became an official statistic — to go at least six innings with no more than three earned runs in each of his first 11 major-league starts. The only other pitcher in big league history to have such a stretch to start his career was Montreal’s Steve Rogers, who did so in his first 16 games in 1973.

“Outstanding again today,” Joe Girardi said.

Tanaka has been asked about feeling extra pressure because of all the rotation injuries. He’s been asked about needing to do more while the offense is having such a hard time. He’s been asked if he feels like an ace. Each time he’s said no. He just goes about his business, does what he does, and the results speak for themselves.

“For the offense there’s good times and there’s bad times,” Tanaka said. “But obviously for myself as a pitcher, what I’m basically trying to do is go out there and to get as many zeroes up as possible on the scoreboard.”

Derek Jeter• Most of the postgame conversation centered on the injuries to Mark Teixeira and Michael Pineda. I believe Girardi was asked one question about Tanaka and two questions about the eighth inning. The rest was mostly Teixeira with a little bit of Pineda.

• Speaking of which… Girardi said the team would “stay status quo for now and make judgments as time goes on” when it comes to filling Teixeira’s hole at first base. Doesn’t sound like he’s expecting a player move, not even a call-up. The Yankees face right-handed pitchers the next two games — which seems to be the minimum Teixeira will miss — so I assume either Kelly Johnson or Brian McCann will handle first base. “We’re a little inexperienced in that situation without him in there,” Girardi said.

• And speaking of McCann, he had two doubles today. According to the Yankees, the last time he had two doubles in a game was — oddly enough — June 12, 2012 with the Braves at Yankee Stadium. McCann is hitting .325 in each of his nine home starts in the month of May.

• McCann on his go-ahead double in the eighth: “I got a slider out over the plate and was able to put the barrel on it, and got it down the line.”

• It’s been a slow two months at the plate for McCann, but he has six hits including three doubles in his past four games. “I feel like I need to get more hits,” he said. “I just feel like I’ve been finding the barrel consistently. It’s just I need to start hitting a little better. … Just got to continue putting the barrel on the ball. Eventually they’ll start finding holes.”

• That eighth-inning rally really got going when Jacoby Ellsbury singled, stole second and took third on a bad throw by the catcher. “We’ve seen that so much from him over the years,” Girardi said. “He has the ability to steal bases at really important times. You look at, he did it against the Cardinals, and he does it again today and puts a lot of pressure on them. The catcher ends up rushing throw and ends up throwing it away, and that’s the difference in the game.”

Yangervis Solarte• And of course there’s Yangervis Solarte who went 3-for-4 and homered to tie the game in the fourth. Every time it seems this guy is going to crash back to earth and reveal himself to be little more than a role player, he seems to get hot again and keep his spot in the everyday lineup. “I feel so great,” Solarte said. “Just keeping my approach. The last six games, I feel so bad, but I keep the same approach.”

• With or without the eighth-inning rain delay, Tanaka was not planning to go back out for the ninth inning. That inning was going to belong to Dave Robertson no matter what. Robertson is now 12-for-13 in save opportunities this season and has 23 strikeouts in his past 9.1 innings. Mike Axisa from River Ave. Blues pointed out on Twitter that Robertson actually has a better strikeout rate than Dellin Betances.

• This was Derek Jeter’s 13th multi-hit game of the season and he’s hitting .321 in his past 13 games. He has a hit in each of his past five home games and is batting .417 in his past seven games at Yankee Stadium. Brett Gardner has also been good at home recently. He went 2-for-4 today and is hitting .405 in his past nine games at Yankee Stadium.

• Just a reminder that Phil Hughes has the start for Minnesota tomorrow (against Chase Whitley). Felix Hernandez is starting that Mariners makeup game at Yankee Stadium on Monday. He’ll match up against David Phelps.

• Final word to Girardi: “You need to put hits together. We had a great opportunity the first inning and weren’t able to get anything done. We had some other opportunities and weren’t able to get anything done. But Mac gets a huge hit for us in the eighth, and we take advantage of that and ended up winning 3-1.”

Associated Press photos

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Teixeira receives cortisone injection; Pineda shut down again05.31.14

Mark Teixeira

When he sat out those three games in St. Louis, Mark Teixeira talked quite a bit about needing to be proactive. If his right wrist was bothering him, he said, he needed to speak up and not let a one-day injury turn into a three-or-four-day injury. Teixeira might not have followed his own advice today.

Teixeira got a cortisone injection and will miss at least another two games after soreness returned to his right wrist. Truth be told, Teixeira said, the wrist was sore before today’s game started but he wanted to play through it.

“It wasn’t really mid-game,” Teixeira said. “It started from last night. I didn’t really have that much relief. I got through it last night because I walked three times, really. I only took two or three swings all night. Today, I didn’t feel really good this morning. I didn’t feel good in BP. We thought maybe it would loosen up, but it didn’t. I basically got back to square one, unfortunately, with the soreness.”

Joe Girardi approached Teixeira on the bench after Teixeira’s third-inning at-bat. Girardi could tell that Teixeira was swinging through pain, and Teixeira was given two options: he could come out of the game right away or he could keep playing defense until his turn in the lineup came around again. Teixeira stayed in the field until Brian Roberts pinch hit for him in the sixth inning.

“It’s inflammation,” Girardi said. “We’ve just got to knock it out. It’s concerning in the short term. As far as the long term, I feel that he’s going to be healthy. Right now he’s got some inflammation and he’s having a hard time knocking it out. … We’ll go a few days here (without making a move). We won’t rush to a judgment here. We’ll go a few days here and see where he’s at. Anticipating giving him Sunday and Monday off and see where he’s at Tuesday. If we have to make a decision, we’ll make a decision.”

Players are basically told to get no more than two cortisone shots a year, and Teixeira said he expected he might need at least one to get through this season. He said that’s why he didn’t get an injection right away. The team wanted to see if rest could do the trick. Since it didn’t, Teixeira got the injection.

“If the shot doesn’t work,” Teixeira said, “then I’m worried.”

PinedaHere’s how Girardi explained the Pineda situation:

“Michael Pineda on Friday played catch and didn’t feel good,” he said. “Not as sore as he was before, so we flew him back (and) he had an MRI this morning. He’s got some inflammation still in that area and he’ll be shut down for a little bit of time here and then we’ll try to get him going again. It’s not the news we wanted, but it’s what we’re dealing with.”

Girardi didn’t have a timetable for Pineda. It seemed he could be in minor league rehab games as early as next week, but obviously that won’t happen now.

“I believe he’ll get healthy and he’ll be extremely productive for us,” Girardi said. “But we’ve got to get him back. That’s the thing. He’s going to be shut down for a while, and then we’ll try it again.”

Associated Press photo

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Injury updates: Teixeira and Pineda05.31.14

TeixeiraMark Teixeira will sit out tomorrow and Monday to see if a couple more days will knock out the inflammation in his wrist. Joe Girardi said there are no plans to make a roster move.

Michael Pineda will no longer make Sunday’s scheduled start. He felt sore after playing catch yesterday and tests revealed inflammation in that same upper back area near his shoulder. He will be shut down again.

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Offense finally comes through for another Tanaka win05.31.14

Brian McCann

The Yankees had a clear pitching advantage. The trick was taking advantage of it. Masahiro Tanaka was terrific — of course — and after squandering early chances, the Yankees finally got the big hit they needed when Brian McCann connected on a game-winning, eighth-inning double for a 3-1 win against the Twins this afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Jacoby Ellsbury had singled, stolen second and taken third on an error, and McCann lined his game-winner just beyond the reach of Twins first baseman Chris Parmelee. It was McCann’s second double of the game and the Yankees’ fourth extra-base hit, matching their highest extra-base-hit total of the past two weeks. The Yankees would add an insurance run on an infield single for Dave Robertson finished off his 12th save.

Tanaka picked up his eighth win by allowing just one run on four hits through eight innings. He struck out nine. The key was getting some run support from the Yankees struggling lineup. Before the middle of the third inning, the Yankees had already hit into two double plays, committed two errors, and Tanaka had thrown two wild pitches. Five Yankees base runners had been wasted, and it was only key Tanaka strikeouts that kept an early 1-0 Twins lead from growing any larger. Even against the pitcher with the highest ERA in baseball — Kevin Correia literally ranked 100th out of 100 among pitchers with enough innings to qualify — the Yankees had real problems overcoming the tiny deficit. In the fourth inning, Yangervis Solarte hit a solo home run to tie the game, and it was only the Yankees fifth homer in their past 13 games. Solarte went 3-for-3 against Correia, and the Yankees totaled nine hits against him, but Correia allowed just one run through six innings. He’d allowed at least three runs in all but one other start this season.

The bad news: Mark Teixeira left the game with renewed soreness in his right wrist.

Associated Press photo

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Game 54: Yankees vs. Twins05.31.14

Masahiro TanakaYANKEES (28-25)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter DH
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano RF
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B
Brendan Ryan SS

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (7-1, 2.29)
Tanaka has never faced the Twins

TWINS (25-27)
Brian Dozier 2B
Eduardo Escobar SS
Joe Mauer DH
Josh Willingham LF
Oswaldo Arcia RF
Trevor Plouffe 3B
Chris Parmelee 1B
Josmil Pinto C
Aaron Hicks CF

RHP Kevin Correia (2-6, 6.34)
Correia vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

WEATHER: A few clouds in the sky, but it’s tough to beat this weather. Feels really nice here at the ballpark. Wind blowing from left to right.

UMPIRES: HP Jim Wolf, 1B Brian Gorman, 2B David Rackley, 3B Tony Randazzo

DAY OWLS: The Yankees are 13-5 (.722) in day games this season, marking the second-best such winning percentage in the Majors behind San Francisco (15-5, .750). The Yankees are just 15-20 in night games in 2014. Over the last four seasons, the Yankees are a Major League-best 122-61 (.667) in day games.

AT THE BOTTOM: Of the 100 major league starters with enough innings to qualify — so far — for the ERA title, Twins starter Kevin Correia ranks No. 100 with a 6.34. No one else is over 6.00.

GOOD MATCHUP: Kelly Johnson is in the lineup today, and Joe Girardi said that’s an attempt to take advantage of his swing in this stadium. Probably doesn’t hurt that he’s a career .321/.387/.893 hitter against Correia with five home runs in 28 at-bats.

UPDATE, 1:16 p.m.: Error, wild pitch, runner-advancing grounder and a two-out single. The Twins are up 1-0 with an unearned run in the first.

UPDATE, 1:23 p.m.: Just as everyone expected, Jeter doubles in his first at-bat. Runners at second and third with no outs for the heart of the order.

UPDATE, 1:36 p.m.: Oh man. Strikeout and double play. Yankees blew a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity against the guy with the worst ERA in baseball. That’s brutal.

UPDATE, 1:58 p.m.: Through two innings, the Yankees have five base runners and two crushing double plays. Now they’ve started the third inning with their second error of the day.

UPDATE, 2:04 p.m.: Seriously, if things don’t turn around, this could be one of the Yankees ugliest games of the year. Only the third inning and already we have two wasted scoring chances, two errors, two wild pitches, plus Teixeira misjudging how much time he had to decide whether to throw to second or settle for the out at first.

UPDATE, 2:07 p.m.: Tanaka gets out of the inning. He’s very clearly the best thing the Yankees have right now.

UPDATE, 2:36 p.m.: No joke, the Yankees just hit a home run. Seriously. Solarte went deep. Game tied at 1.

UPDATE, 2:50 p.m.: Jeter gets a ball to the warning track. Second hard-hit ball of the day for him. He’s 2-for-3 with a double.

UPDATE, 3:02 p.m.: Nice job by Teixeira, Ryan and Tanaka on the 3-6-1 double play, and nice job by Ellsbury tracking down the fly ball to deep left center. Still tied at 1 heading into the bottom of the sixth.

UPDATE, 3:04 p.m.: Well that can’t be good news. Teixeira is out, Roberts is in. By the way, Roberts had been on deck at the end of the fifth inning, but Teixeira stayed in the game then. He’s out now. Kinda weird.

UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: Pretty similar to last night’s Jeter base running mistake, Solarte clearly expected McCann to be going home and took off for second, where he was easily out stretching. Solarte is 3-for-3 at the plate, so he’s got that going for him.

UPDATE, 3:55 p.m.: Ellsbury stole his way into scoring position, and McCann came through with his second double of the game. It’s now a 2-1 Yankees lead in the eighth, but the tarp just came on the field for what might be a short rain delay.

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Pregame notes: “You try to run a set lineup out there”05.31.14

Travis d'Arnaud, Kelly Johnson

The Yankees have gone through a power outage lately, and it just so happens that two of their regular bench players are primarily power hitters.

Infielder Kelly Johnson and outfielder Zoilo Almonte haven’t played much, but the greatest asset for each one is an ability to hit for power. It seems little coincidence that Johnson is in the lineup this afternoon.

“You think about using Kelly maybe more here than sometimes on the road,” Girardi said. “Because the ballpark plays to him, and that’s one of the reasons he’s in there today. His at-bats have kind of gotten going a bit, and I want to keep him going. We’re in a really long stretch here, 17 days in a row, and a bunch of day games in a row here, and (we will) try to take advantage of it.”

As for a regular lineup change to try to take advantage of Almonte’s ability to hit the ball out of the park, that might not be in the cards just yet. Girardi has a tendency to stick with his guys, and Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ichiro Suzuki have been the regular outfielders (a trio that has very little power) while Alfonso Soriano has basically rotated between right field and designated hitter (a legitimate power hitter, but with a .359 slugging percentage against right handers this year). Johnson had fallen behind both Brian Roberts and Yangervis Solarte on the infield depth chart, but we’ll see if that changes if Johnson can string together some productive games during this home stand.

“Sometimes you have to do some things (to shake up the lineup) just because of the way your players are, the way the schedule is,” Girardi said. “You try to run a set lineup out there every day, and we’ve had our five or six guys we run out there every day, six or seven. And you have the injury to Carlos which kind of changed things a little bit, so we’ve had to adapt a little bit there. We had the injury to Tex, which changed things a bit and we had to adapt there. You’d like to run out about seven or eight of the same guys every day.”

Shawn Kelley• Shawn Kelley said he feels fine today — he threw a bullpen yesterday — and he’s still on track to throw another bullpen tomorrow. Yesterday was his first bullpen since that day he couldn’t get loose in Milwaukee. Seems like a rehab assignment is possible next week, assuming he comes through tomorrow with no problem.

• Carlos Beltran hit again today and he’s scheduled to hit again tomorrow. “We’ll make some decisions from there if that all goes OK,” Girardi said. The Yankees haven’t announced a plan for Beltran, but kind of like Kelley, it wouldn’t seem surprising to see him getting into minor league games at some point next week.

• Also, Michael Pineda is scheduled to pitch an intrasquad game tomorrow.

• Girardi said he did not check with mark Teixeira before posting today’s lineup, but he was planning to check with him whenever Teixeira got to the ballpark. “He came to us on Monday (to say his wrist was hurting),” Girardi said. “So I trust that if he feels he’s not a player, he’ll come to me.”

• On whether Teixeira has to be managed more carefully going forward: “There’s probably going to be soreness in 92 percent of my players during the course of a game,” Girardi said. “Soreness is one thing. Being injured is another. I think you have to check in with all the guys, and when it becomes too much they’re going to sit down. Players don’t play feeling 100 percent every day. It’s not the nature of the game. … I check with guys every day to see how they’re feeling. I just don’t want to make too much of this. If we feel he needs a day off, then we’ll give him a day off. If he says he’s OK, then we’re going to play him.”

• Just a personal observation: Girardi seems to be irritated by the questions about the ways to properly manage Teixeira’s playing time. Can’t help wondering if that has something to do with Teixeira basically saying — more than once this season — that he’s played too much, which has caused his fatigue and soreness issues. It’s surely on both Girardi and Teixeira to make sure this wrist issue, or any other, doesn’t get out of hand and force a three-day shutdown like Teixeira experienced this week.

• Can’t forget to mention, Happy Tanaka Day. Where would the Yankees be without him? “Well, we wouldn’t be in probably as good of shape as we’re in,” Girardi said. “His pitching has been extremely consistent, we’ve won his games and he has a number of wins — I think it’s seven or eight. It’s hard to say. He’s been a guy that has given us distance and has given us a little bit of time off when he takes it. It’s not just distance, it’s good distance where he leaves the game usually with a lead and we’re able to finish out the games.”

• You know how sometimes you’re writing pregame blog notes and scroll through your iTunes library only to randomly land on the Creedence album Green River? Man, I love when that happens. Such a great album.

Associated Press photos

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Jeter at DH, Johnson at third05.31.14

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter DH
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano RF
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B
Brendan Ryan SS

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

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Tanaka on limiting home runs: “I haven’t differed the approach”05.31.14

Masahiro Tanaka

From one team to another, one league to another, one country to another — Masahiro Tanaka has been a master of adjustments in his first big league season. And it seems surely he’s made yet another in the past three weeks.

Tanaka allowed seven home runs in his first six starts this season.

In his past four starts, he’s allowed none.

So what has Tanaka changed this time? What’s this latest adjustment? Tanaka answered the question with a one-word answer that his interpreter translated instantly.

“Nothing,” he said.

When reporters started laughing, Tanaka did as well.

“Honestly, no joking,” he said. “I’m pitching the way I want to pitch. … Just basically trying to do what I’ve always been doing. I haven’t differed the approach from those games that I gave up home runs to the past four games.”

Those past four games have each been on the road, so maybe that’s part of it. Three have been against National League teams, which could be part of it as well. Could also be that Tanaka’s getting better. One specific adjustment or not, lately he’s improved the one thing that seemed a bit troubling through those early starts.

“Obviously, yes. I’m getting used to (pitching here),” he said. “I think I’ve gotten used to it from the first game to the second game, the second game to the third game, the third game to the fourth game. It’s really hard to say exactly when I’ve really gotten used to it, but each game I’ve gotten more used to the baseball here.”

Up next is this afternoon’s start against the Twins, who happen to be — other than last night — one of the worst home-run-hitting teams in the American League.

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “Have to score some different ways”05.30.14

Brian Roberts

Carlos Beltran is still on the disabled list, Mark Teixeira just came back from his second injury of the year, Alfonso Soriano was on the bench tonight and hasn’t hit against right-handers, and Brian McCann’s .370 slugging percentage is more than 100 points lower than his career slugging percentage heading into this season.

Little wonder, then, that the Yankees haven’t hit for much power lately. May 17 is a convenient landmark — that’s the day they hit five home runs in a game — and since then, the Yankees have hit just four homers in 12 games. They’ve averaged 1.5 extra-base hits in that span. Tonight they had two. Last game they had one. The game before that, they were shutout. And the game before that they had nothing but singles and walks.

“This is not a lineup that’s filled with a ton of power,” Joe Girardi said. “So we’re going to have to put hits together and hit doubles and steal some bases and do some things like that. We do have guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark, but I don’t necessarily think you have a lot of guys in your lineup who are going to hit 25 to 30 (home runs). I don’t think that, so we’re going to have to score some different ways.”

Asked about the lack of power, Girardi quickly brought up a few seasons ago when he was asked several times whether the Yankees were too reliant on the home run. If this season is an elaborate attempt to prove the value of the long ball, it seems an extreme way to make that point. Vidal Nuno wasn’t great tonight, but despite the three home runs he allowed, he still gave the Yankees a start that would have been winable had the bullpen not allowed some insurance runs and the lineup not failed to take advantage of the 11 base runners Ricky Nolasco allowed.

“There’s a lot of ways to score runs,” Brett Gardner said. “But when you don’t hit balls over the fence, you have to find ways to manufacture runs, and we didn’t do the job like that tonight.”

How to boost the offense going forward? Maybe Zoilo Almonte could provide some power against right-handers? Maybe Kelly Johnson could get some more at-bats in some capacity? Maybe McCann and Soriano can become more productive, Beltran can get healthy, and Teixeira can stay on the field?

The Yankees just managed a winning record during a tough road trip, but tonight they came home and blew it against what should have been an inferior opponent.

“I think you just keep swinging,” Derek Jeter said. “That’s pretty much all you can do. It’s a situation I think most teams go through throughout the course of the year. Sometimes it seems like hitting is contagious, and sometimes the flip side can be contagious as well. You just come back tomorrow and hopefully we can start swinging the bats a little bit better and scoring some runs. It’s obviously a lot easier on the pitching staff if we score.”

Vidal Nuno• A quick CC Sabathia update: He did see Dr. Chris Ahmad today, and Girardi said that indications are that Sabathia’s knee has improved, but he’s still not close to baseball activities. In fact, he’s just now scheduled to “start some more movement,” which Girardi said basically means fancy treadmills and such. “He hasn’t played catch or thrown a bullpen, so he’s still a ways away,” Girardi said.

• All seemed fine with Teixeira’s first game following four days off. He walked three times, so it’s not like he was swinging away very often. “He looked OK to me,” Girardi said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. We’ll make a judgment on what we’re going to do tomorrow. It looked like they didn’t give him much to hit, and he was patient and did what he was supposed to do.”

• After the top of the fourth, I was fully prepared to write a story all about Vidal Nuno’s struggles, but he yet again gave the Yankees a decent enough start, and this time he nearly pitched through the seventh. He has a 5.48 ERA, but his past three starts have been two earned runs through six innings, three earned runs through seven innings, and tonight’s four earned through 6.2 innings. That’s basically fifth-starter material. Hasn’t been able to carry a game, but in most of his outings he’s given the Yankees a chance.

• What happened on the home runs? “Just fastballs up, and I cannot be doing that,” Nuno said. “… These are big-league hitters, so pretty much if they connect with the fastball, it could go a long way or it could be a quick out. But today, I left them a little bit up and they took advantage of it.”

• Nuno ended the Yankees streak of 14 games in which their starters allowed three earned runs or less. That was their longest such stretch since a 15-game streak in 2009.

• Nuno tried his career-high for pitches thrown (101) while he also matched his home run’s allowed total from his previous five starts.

Joe Mauer• Twins starter Nolasco came into this game with the second-worst ERA among qualified pitchers in the American League. The only pitcher worse than Nolasco? Kevin Correia, who’s starting tomorrow’s game for the Twins.

• What happened on the play in the fifth when Gardner was held up at third base and Jeter rounded too far past first? “It’s my job in that situation, if you think there’s a play at the plate, you’ve got to go and try to go to second base to trade an out for a run,” Jeter explained. “Gardy wasn’t going, so it’s not my job to think what’s going to happen. I’ve got to make sure he’s going. Good play by them, but I assumed he was going. I shouldn’t assume.”

• The play obviously didn’t work out, but Gardner said Rob Thomson made the right decision to hold him at third. “I saw the replay and I would have been out by a good bit,” Gardner said. “He has a real good arm and the throw was right on the money.”

• That “real good arm” belongs to right fielder Oswaldo Arcia, who made two good throws to the plate, each one ultimately resulting in an out. He also had two hits including a home run. He has a seven-game hitting streak. “He had a big part (in) the game for sure,” Girardi said.

• Gardner is hitting .394 with two homers and nine RBI in his past eight games at Yankee Stadium. Overall he’s hitting .345 at home this year. Gardner had a hit, a walk and two stolen bases tonight.

• The Yankees have lost three straight against the Twins for the first time since August 19, 1998 to May 4, 1999. They have lost three straight home games against the Twins for the first time since 1992.

• Final word to Jeter: “It’s always a grind. Like I always tell you guys, it seems like throughout the course of the year we always have these little streaks. Every team has these streaks when you’re not doing what you would like to do. All you can do is keep battling. That’s about it. For the most part I think we’ve been playing all right, but there’s always room for improvement and scoring runs is one of them.”

Associated Press photos

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Powerless: Yankees lose one to the slumping Twins05.30.14

Kurt Suzuki

Hard to say which the Yankees need most, a new starting pitcher or a new power hitter. They could have used both tonight in a 6-1 loss to the slumping Twins, who had lost six of seven. The Twins lineup had the third-fewest home runs and their starting pitcher had the second-worst ERA in the American League, yet the Twins homered three times in the first four innings while the Yankees were held to two extra-base hits after getting just one in their previous game. Yankees starter Vidal Nuno finished with a vaguely winnable pitching line — four earned runs with no walks through 6.2 innings — but he also put the Yankees in an early hole by giving up a solo home run in the second inning and a pair of home runs in the fourth. The Yankees meanwhile let Ricky Nolasco off the hook for his four walks and seven hits allowed. Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI double was the Yankees only extra-base hit before the ninth inning, and whether they tested or did not test right fielder Oswaldo Arcia’s arm, the Yankees were always wrong. Brett Gardner was held up in the fifth inning, and he wound up tagged out after a pair of run downs. Brian Roberts was sent home in the sixth inning, and he was thrown out at the plate.

Associated Press photo

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