MINNEAPOLIS -- Hits can cover up a poor starting rotation, and so far the New York Yankees have found that out in Minnesota.
Back-to-back wins over the Twins to start this four-game series have the Yankees (43-42) back above .500 for the first time in July.
New York now has an AL East-best 25 wins on the road, and the Yankees trail the first-place Toronto Blue Jays by three games.
Fast out of the gate: The Yankees did away with Twins starter Kyle Gibson (7-7) in two innings. Gibson surrendered six hits and six runs (five earned) with one walk. Brett Gardner hit a leadoff triple deep into left field, which was followed by a string of extra-base hits from Brian Roberts and Mark Teixeira. The Yankees are now 18-4 on the season when leading after the first inning.
Clobbering Roberts: Part of the Yankees’ offensive problem is a failure to bite off more than a single at a time. New York averages just 2.6 extra-base hits per game, but they had eight on Friday. Gardner, Roberts, Teixeira and Francisco Cervelli all had extra-base hits on the day. Roberts -- three doubles and a triple -- had four.
That makes Roberts the first Yankee with four extra-base hits in a game since Alex Rodriguez in 2005. The only other two Yankees in the past 40 years to accomplish that feat are Hideki Matsui (2003) and Shane Spencer (1998).
Served up: In his start after back-to-back losses, Chase Whitley’s third pitch of the day sailed 383 feet into the left field stands at Target Field off Brian Dozier. Chris Colabello also belted a 360-foot home run into the right-field stands in the second inning in his first at-bat against Whitley. After not surrendering a home run in 27.2 innings, Whitley has served up at least one in four of his past five starts.
Whitley lasted three innings, surrendered four earned runs and now has a 14.81 ERA in his past three starts.
Close call: Colabello hit a sac fly to score one run in the eighth for Minnesota and bring the score to 6-5. Teixeira robbed Eduardo Escobar at first to end the inning with the tying run at third. Minnesota's relievers held the Yankees scoreless through the final seven innings. Yankees reliever David Robertson picked up his 20th save of the season.
Capitalizing on chances: Entering this weekend’s series in Minnesota, the Yankees had just two hits in their past 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position. The past two days, New York is 6-for-14 with 12 RBIs in such situations.
E-llsbury fumble: Oswaldo Arcia blasted a shot between center and left field that should’ve been a double in the third inning, but he was able to reach third base because Jacoby Ellsbury fumbled the pickup on the warning track. In the next at-bat, Trevor Plouffe hit a line drive past second base to score Arcia and close the Yankees’ lead to 6-4. Somehow, Ellsbury escaped without the error as Arcia was granted the triple.
Remembering Gehrig: The Yankees might have been on the road for the July 4 holiday game that also was the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man” speech, but on Friday, all teams across baseball celebrated by wearing on their uniforms a patch in support of ALS awareness.
“I think it’s an important day in American history,” manager Joe Girardi said pregame. “But it’s also an important day in Yankee history for what Lou Gehrig represented, what kind of player he was, what type of man he was and what he meant to the sport and its tradition.”
The Twins hosted families affected by ALS in a pregame ceremony honoring Gehrig’s speech. Girardi and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire caught simultaneous first pitches. Twins coach (and former player) Terry Steinbach and former player Kent Hrbek, who both lost their fathers to ALS, were on the field during the pregame ceremony with sons of a late Twins fan who died of ALS.