New York Yankees batter Minnesota Twins early, cruise to win

By Dan Myers, The Sports Xchange
New York Yankees' Carlos Beltran. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York Yankees' Carlos Beltran. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

MINNEAPOLIS -- Carlos Beltran's mammoth two-run homer in the first inning gave New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka all the offensive support he would need in an 8-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night at Target Field.

Beltran's blast came as part of a four-run first-inning explosion for the Yankees, who added three runs in the third and another in the fourth, winning their second consecutive game against the Twins. New York began the four-game series on Thursday in the midst of a four-game losing streak.


The home run was a part of a three-hit night for Beltran, who was lifted in the sixth inning for a pinch runner as he continues to battle through a sore knee.

It was difficult to see the ailment in the first, when he deposited left-hander Pat Dean's full-count offering 419 feet into the second deck in left field for his team-leading 17th homer.


"He looked good tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Beltran. "I'm trying to be careful with him right now. We want to keep him healthy and keep his bat in the lineup."

Rob Refsnyder and Chase Headley each chipped in with a pair of hits; Headley reached four times in all, adding a pair of walks. Each Yankee starter finished with at least one hit.

Eduardo Escobar was the only Twin to reach base more than once as Minnesota lost its fourth consecutive game. Escobar had three hits and finished a triple short of the cycle.

Escobar was the lone bright spot for the Twins, who got little going against Tanaka.

"I think the ball was coming out of my hand really good, particularly the two-seamer," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I think I was using that often enough and it was working well for me."

Tanaka scattered seven hits -- six of them singles -- over eight innings of one-run ball. He walked none and struck out five, dropping his season ERA to 2.91. Tanaka has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.


"A lot of ground balls. For the most part, he worked ahead in the count," Girardi said. "He was really efficient and I thought he used all his pitches tonight. He did a good job.

"We have not scored (Tanaka) a lot of runs and you always worry when you have a long first inning how a guy is going to come out."

Jacoby Ellsbury singled to lead off the game and Rob Refsnyder doubled into the left-center field gap to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead just five pitches into the game. Beltran punctuated the inning with two-run blast into the second deck in left field for a quick three-run lead against Dean.

A walk and a double by Headley put two more runners in scoring position for Didi Gregorius, who legged out an infield single, allowing another run to score, capping a four-run first.

"You hate to say a game is over (that) early. It happened fast," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "Didn't start out well. He had a little bit of a battle there with Beltran, but left a cutter up."

The Twins got one back on an RBI groundout by Max Kepler in the second before the Yankees scored three more in the third and ended Dean's night.


New York loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk and scored on Gregorius' RBI ground out.

Twins right-hander Neil Ramirez entered and surrendered a two-run double to Austin Romine, closing the book on Dean. The rookie left-hander allowed seven runs on eight hits and three walks in just 2 1/3 innings and was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game.

"I let the game speed up on me," Dean said. "It started to get away from myself and (I) wasn't locating, wasn't executing pitches. That's a good ball club and if you're not executing pitches, they're going to take advantage of it."

Starlin Castro added an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to give the Yankees an 8-1 lead. Neither team scored again until the bottom of the ninth when Escobar hit a solo homer.

NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 35 minutes by rain. ... Yankees OF Aaron Hicks was in the starting lineup, batting ninth and playing in left field. Hicks, a first-round draft pick of the Twins in 2008, was traded from Minnesota to New York during the winter for C John Ryan Murphy. ... Twins OF Miguel Sano (strained hamstring) is ahead of schedule in his recovery and could head out on a rehab assignment as soon as next week. Sano has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 1. ... Twins OF Darin Mastroianni, who has been on the disabled list since May 25 with a strained oblique, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on Friday. Mastroianni has appeared in seven games with the Twins this season, with zero hits in 11 plate appearances. ... New York and Minnesota will play the third contest of a four-game series on Saturday afternoon at Target Field. The Yankees will send RHP Michael Pineda (3-7, 5.88 ERA) to the mound against Twins RHP Ricky Nolasco (3-4, 5.12 ERA).


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