For a team with rotation concerns, New York Yankees starting pitchers have been quite solid in recent weeks.
Vidal Nuno will be charged with keeping it going as he tries for his first career victory at Yankee Stadium on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the struggling Minnesota Twins.
The Yankees (28-24) have gone 14 games without a starter allowing over three earned runs, a stretch that includes a 2.82 ERA. That’s something they’re likely happy with considering just two pieces of their rotation have had uninterrupted seasons – Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda.
Nuno (1-1, 5.49 ERA) joined the rotation after three relief appearances and made it through a career-best seven innings in Saturday’s 4-3, 10-inning road win over the Chicago White Sox. He allowed three runs and nine hits with a career-high 101 pitches.
The left-hander hasn’t fared well at Yankee Stadium, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts and two relief appearances in his career. On the road, he’s 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in five starts and three relief outings.
New York completed a 5-4 road trip by taking two of three from St. Louis this week. Jacoby Ellsbury went 5 for 12 with four RBIs in the series after suffering through a 5-for-44 stretch with three RBIs over his previous 12 contests.
"You’re not always going to have your ‘A’ game every single night. In this game you sometimes have to be able to forget about it, learn from it and rebound the next game," Ellsbury told the team’s official website.
Yangervis Solarte, though, remains cold and was held out of the lineup for Wednesday’s 7-4 win. The rookie infielder is 0 for 14 over his last four games and 7 for 47 over his past 13.
The Yankees now begin a seven-game homestand with a matchup against Ricky Nolasco, who has never faced New York.
Nolasco (2-5, 6.12) has allowed at least five earned runs in half of his 10 starts. Among pitchers with at least one inning pitched per team game, his .322 opponent batting average has made him the most hittable in the majors.
It was the worst it’s been in Sunday’s 8-1 loss in San Francisco as the right-hander surrendered seven runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings.
"Hopefully just fortune changes," Nolasco told the team’s official website. "Been hoping for a little while now."
The Twins (24-27) have lost six of seven after concluding a four-game home series against Texas with a 5-4 defeat Thursday. Josh Willingham hit his first home run of the season in his fourth game back from the disabled list and went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, a positive sign for a team that’s batting .205 over the last 11 games.
The Twins have 14 runs during the 1-6 stretch, thanks to a 6-for-52 mark with runners in scoring position.
”That’s the main focus, getting guys on, but we can’t get them in," said second baseman Brian Dozier, who is 2 for 22 in his last six games.
Center fielder Aaron Hicks has been out of the lineup for two games because of back stiffness.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is nursing a sore right wrist. He was out of the lineup for the series in St. Louis, saw a specialist Thursday and is considered day to day.
Teixeira is 4 for 8 with a home run against Nolasco while Brian McCann is hitting .345 (20 for 58) with eight home runs and four doubles when facing him.
The Yankees won five of seven against the Twins in 2013.