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Yanks hope series win is start of something

MINNEAPOLIS -- In a season of peaks and valleys, the Yankees started their climb back up the mountain with a series win in Minnesota.

However, they know all too well about letdowns, as the Yankees haven’t won back-to-back series since May.

“It’s been a lot of ups and downs,” manager Joe Girardi said, following his team's 9-7 win over the Twins on Sunday. “But hopefully this four days here got them going and it carries on into next week and the rest of the year.”

The Yankees have the good fortune of being in a tight AL East race, as the first-place Orioles' 48 wins are tied for the fewest by any division leader. New York is currently 3.5 games back, and heads to Cleveland for a four-game series starting Monday.

The Indians provide a decent chance for the Yankees to keep up their hitting streak, after posting 14 hits on Sunday. Cleveland is one of just seven teams to allow at least 397 runs this season -- one of the others being the Twins.

“We swung the bat well, needed it because we haven’t swung the bat well in a while,” Mark Teixeira said. “It’s just good to score runs. Throughout the whole series, it was basically a team effort, we didn’t have one guy carry us through the series. We had one through nine (hitters) contribute pretty much every game except for yesterday, so that’s a good sign.”

The Yankees got long-awaited breakout performances from players expected to be daily contributors in the series win over the Twins. On Thursday, it was Carlos Beltran’s three-run homer that propelled New York to a 7-4 victory. On Friday, Brian Roberts made history with four extra-base hits. Jacoby Ellsbury and Derek Jeter combined to go 5-for-9 for six RBIs in Sunday’s win.

Ellsbury had been 3-for-17 in his previous four games in July before he blasting a 406-foot home run in his second at-bat on Sunday.

“Sometimes you can’t really pinpoint it,” Ellsbury said. “But we like where we’re at right now, hopefully keep it rolling. Guys are putting good at-bats together and look confident at the plate.”

The Yankees will have two new pitchers on the mound in two of the first three games in Cleveland. Shane Greene has been promoted from Triple-A Scranton and will start Monday, and Brandon McCarthy will debut Wednesday after being acquired from Arizona for Vidal Nuno on Sunday.

Without fully knowing what to expect from their fresh starters, runs could be even more important for the Yankees.

The Yankees now have only 12 non-pitchers on the roster after designating Alfonso Soriano for assignment and recalling pitcher Bruce Billings. New York’s hitters will be levied with even more responsibility.

“We got to get through our pitching first,” Girardi said. “We don’t plan on playing with 12 players the rest of the time, we’ll go day by day.”