The New York Yankees will face an old friend on Sunday as Phil Hughes starts for the Minnesota Twins in the final contest of a three- game set.
Hughes spent his first seven seasons in the majors with New York, but was never the consistent starter the Yankees hoped for. He had a 61-51 record during his time in the Bronx, but just a 4.44 ERA and that included a miserable 2013 season (4-14, 5.19 ERA), his last one in pinstripes.
The right-hander's first campaign with the Twins has started off much better than last season. Hughes is 5-1 with an ERA of 3.23 in 10 starts. He has also pitched 61 1/3 innings and struck out an even 50 batters. He has not allowed more than three runs in seven straight starts, including his most recent outing when he let up just three runs on eight hits over seven innings against Texas. The Twins won the game 4-3, but Hughes did not factor in the decision.
Starter Chase Whitley will get the call for the Yankees in Sunday's series finale.
Whitley has started in three games this season, his first at the major league level, since being called up in mid-May. The Yankees have not allowed him to go very deep into games as he has just 14 innings pitched and has not thrown more than 91 pitches in any of his three starts.
The most recent of those appearances came last Monday against St. Louis when the 24-year-old let up three runs on eight hits in a career-best five innings.
These teams split the first two games of this series, with the Twins earning a 6-1 victory on Friday and New York answering with a 3-1 victory on Saturday.
Masahiro Tanaka continued his dominant start to his Major League career as he picked up his eighth win of the season yesterday. He lasted eight innings and allowed just one unearned run and stuck out nine batters. David Robertson struck out the side in the ninth inning to secure his 12th save.
"He commands both sides of the plate and he's got four or five pitches he can attack you with," said Yankees catcher Brian McCann. "I can't say enough about him."
Yangervis Solarte hit a home run in the fourth inning, McCann drove in a run with a double in the eighth and Brian Roberts scored on an infield single from Kelly Johnson in the same inning to account for the Yankees three runs.
New York has won five of its last seven contests.
The Twins got on the board first when Josh Willingham drove in Brian Dozier with a single in the first. However, they managed just three hits the rest of the game.
"He's tough," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Tanaka. "Guys were saying the ball was just disappearing and his splitter was unbelievable. He has all the pitches."
Kevin Correia pitched well opposite of Tanaka, limiting the Yankees to one run over six innings. Brian Duensing came on in relief and took the loss, allowing two runs in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Saturday's loss was the seventh in the last nine games for Minnesota.
This is the first series of the year between these teams. The Yankees won five of seven games a year ago.