After Alex Rodriguez’s grand slam injected some life into New York’s offense, it doesn’t figure to die down just yet with Nathan Eovaldi taking the mound for the Yankees.
Eovaldi has been the beneficiary of the Yankees’ powerful lineup all year and will look to win his eighth straight decision Wednesday as New York goes for a three-game home sweep against the Minnesota Twins.
The Yankees (66-52) scored eight runs and posted double-digit hits in each of their first two wins against the Twins in this series, which coincided with two straight victories by Toronto that have kept their AL East lead at one game.
New York’s offense struggled to just nine runs during a 1-6 slump earlier this month, but the club has regrouped with 33 runs on its current 5-1 tear.
More often than not, the runs have been there for Eovaldi (12-2, 4.26 ERA).
The right-hander has a 4.00 ERA since May 25, but he’s gone 9-1 during that stretch because of a league-high run support average of 8.86. His 7.60 season support average is second in the majors to Drew Hutchison (7.72), who was recently demoted by Toronto.
Eovaldi, who has never finished above .500 nor had more than six wins over his first four seasons, is 7-0 with a 3.22 ERA since June 20 and hasn’t lost since June 16.
That stretch includes a July 26 gem against the Twins for his 10th win of the season. Eovaldi allowed two runs and eight hits in a season-high eight innings with five strikeouts and just one walk in a 7-2 victory.
"It was real nice. I feel like it’s the best start I’ve had all year," Eovaldi told MLB’s official website. "I had the fastball working, and I got a lot of swing and misses with my split as well."
The Yankees have won four of five against the Twins this season and seven of nine dating to last July.
The Twins (59-60), losers of four of six and 11 of 16, will hand Ervin Santana the ball to oppose Eovaldi.
Minnesota waited 81 games for Santana to return to action, and they are still waiting to see the pitcher they cashed out $55 million over four years for in December.
Santana, suspended days before the season opener after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, showed a glimpse of what Minnesota was expecting with 15 2-3 scoreless innings in back-to-back wins last month.
However, his 9.90 ERA in four starts since July 29 is the highest in the majors. The Twins dropped all four of those games by a combined 24 runs, with three of the losses charged to the veteran right-hander.
Santana (2-3, 5.66) will need to break a personal drought against the Yankees to reroute his season. As a member of the Los Angeles Angels, Santana won five of his first six career starts against New York with a 4.72 ERA despite a disastrous three-inning, nine-run outing in 2007.
His record against the Yankees since then is 0-7 behind a 7.28 ERA, including 0-3 and 9.72 marks in three career outings at Yankee Stadium. His 7.28 ERA is the highest among starting pitchers with at least eight starts against New York during that time.
Santana is 5-8 with a 6.34 ERA in 17 career starts against the Yankees. Rodriguez, whose slam in the seventh Tuesday put the Yankees ahead 5-4 in an eventual 8-4 victory, has hit .333 against Santana with four home runs and 11 RBIs.