This was the Yankees’ day: They made a trade for a starting pitcher, moved on from a struggling hitter, scored nine early runs, and held on for their third win in four days. They hadn’t scored this many runs since May 7, and by winning this series they pushed their record back to one game above .500 with a week to go before the All-Star break.
At the very least, this has a chance to be a day that feels momentous when things are said and done.
“We swung the bats well, and we needed it because we hadn’t been swinging the bats well for a while,” Mark Teixeira said. “It just gives us a little boost to know that we still have it in us.”
The postgame clubhouse was interesting, because guys seemed pretty happy about the win and happy for the guys who made the All-Star team. But asked if it felt like a big day, Teixeira said it felt more like a “tired” day. This was the third day game in a row, and there was a lot going on, including a popular teammate being designated for assignment. It’s easy to look from the outside and say this was a day the Yankees made themselves better — or at least gave themselves a chance to be better — but from the inside, a teammate is gone and there’s still a long way to go.
“Soriano’s like family to me,” Derek Jeter said. “I played with him for a long time. When he first came up, and then obviously coming back now. Sori’s had a tremendous career here in New York. He’s done a great job. It’s difficult for him this year. Anytime you talk about a player who’s used to playing every day not playing every day, it’s hard to be productive. I feel for him. I’m going to miss him, but I’ll be in touch with him. He’s like a brother to me. He should be proud of what he’s been able to do, not only in the past but this year as well, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Past the mid-point of the season, though, it seemed time for the Yankees to make tough decisions and go after players that might help them going forward. They did that this morning. It’s also time for the offense to start playing up to its potential, and nine runs on 14 hits was a pretty good way to start doing that. The Yankees scored at least six runs in three of four games here in Minnesota.
“You look at three of the four days, we hit the ball extremely well and that’s what we need,” Joe Girardi said. “We need to come up with that consistency. There’s going to be those days when you don’t hit the ball, but it was great to jump all over Nolasco and then add some more on later. … It seems like it’s been a while since we won a series, so I think that this is big. We’ve got to carry that momentum into Cleveland and try to win another series. A four-game series can be tough to win. We’ve got to go give everything we’ve got for the next week.”
• We all know that Jeter was elected to the All-Star Game by fans, but it’s worth noting that he was also the American League’s leading shortstop on the players’ ballot. Jeter had 344 player votes while Alexi Ramirez had 313. It’s not only Yankees fans who want to see Jeter in one last All-Star Game. His peers do as well. “I’ve never taken it for granted any time that I’ve gone,” Jeter said. “I’ve enjoyed each and every one of them — but especially so, I’m looking forward to this one.”
• Also from the players’ ballot: Masahiro Tanaka had more votes than any other starting pitcher in either league. Dellin Betances had the third-most votes among American League relievers, so he made the team that way. He was not selected by the manager.
• Former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano won the fan vote and will start the All-Star Game, but it was Jose Altuve who had the most votes on the players’ ballot. Altuve is having the better year, but it’s kind of cool that Jeter and Cano will play next to one another one last time. “I played with Robbie for a long time,” Jeter said. “I was there when he came up, and we’re friends as well as teammates. It’d be great to see Robbie.”
• Dave Robertson has to be the biggest Yankees snub. I was pretty convinced he’d make it — his strikeout rate is actually higher than any other major-league pitcher with at least 25 innings this season, including Betances — but he’s left out of the mix. The final ballot for the American League is LHP Dallas Keuchel of the Astros, RHP Corey Kluber of the Indians, RHP Garrett Richards of the Angels, RHP Rick Porcello of the Tigers and LHP Chris Sale of the White Sox. Gotta be Sale, right?
• Brian McCann showed up this morning and told Girardi he felt good enough to play, but Girardi made him go through full BP before putting his name in the lineup. McCann said the injury is between the first and second toe, midway down his left foot. He expects to play again tomorrow. “It shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.
• In his final regular-season game in Minnesota — we now know he’ll be back later this month for the All-Star Game — Jeter went 3-for-4 to collect his 23rd multi-hit game of the year. He’s a career .323 hitter against the Twins. His ninth-inning single was the 3,400th hit of his career. He’s the first player since Pete Rose to reach that number. “We pay a little bit of attention, but I don’t think he pays too close attention to that,” Girardi said. “Obviously he’s going to end up way up there in the record books, but he worries about wins and that’s what we worry about.”
• Although Girardi had Betances warming at one point, he said he badly wanted to stay away from using him today. “I really did,” Girardi said. The Yankees wound up getting through that eighth inning without using Betances, then Robertson pitched for the third time in four days to close it out.
• Not a great start for Hiroki Kuroda, but aside from one four-run inning he managed to get out of every bit of trouble. He’s 6-6 on the year and won for just the second time in his past seven starts. “He had the one inning that was a little bit shaky,” Girardi said. “He had two outs with nobody on and gave up the three runs, but overall he was pretty good today.”
• Ichiro Suzuki tied his season high with three hits today. He also did that April 4 in Toronto. This was the 14th time in his career that he had at least three hits against the Twins. He also did it on July 4 last year.
• Jacoby Ellsbury hit his fifth home run of the season. It was a three-run shot, part of a two-hit day. “We know he’s got pop,” Girardi said. “He hit a couple of balls (hard) today. The one in the first inning, too. He hit that ball a long ways too. A nice catch by Sam Fuld, who ran down a lot of them this weekend.” This was oddly his first career home run against the Twins.
• Final word can go to Teixeira: “It’s just good to score runs because throughout the whole series it was basically a team effort. It wasn’t like it was one guy who carried us all series. We had one through nine contribute pretty much every game except for yesterday, so that’s a good sign.”
Associated Press photos