Yankees look to ride momentum in finale vs. Brewers (Jul 09, 2017)

BY AP • July 9, 2017

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees are hoping to find out if one dramatic homer can alter weeks of negative momentum on Sunday afternoon when they conclude a three-game series with the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.

The Yankees were two outs away from another discouraging defeat until Clint Frazier hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth Saturday. Instead of a 3-2 loss, the Yankees walked off the field with a 5-3 win.

"That was a big win," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We needed that."

The Yankees (45-40) are 7-17 in their last 24 games after Frazier's homer and 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. They have not won a series since scoring 38 runs in a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on June 9-11.

"Every win's huge," Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge said. "We just showed some heart there, some fight. That's what it's all about. Hopefully we can build off it."

The Yankees have been unable to build off their previous six wins in this slide, getting outscored 37-19 in games immediately after those victories.

Frazier is with the Yankees only because of Dustin Fowler's gruesome knee injury June 29 in Chicago. He homered in his major-league debut July 1 in Houston but was in a 1-for-12 skid before Saturday.

"I feel really comfortable now," Frazier said. "Over the last couple days, coaches have been working with me really hard to get me to be more consistent with my lower half and catch balls out front more consistently. It paid off."

Milwaukee (49-41) is hoping Frazier's adjustments don't pay off against its pitching staff. The Brewers had a five-game winning streak stopped and missed a chance to be 10 games over .500.

Domingo Santana hit a three-run homer in the first inning and is batting .500 (14-for-28) in his last eight games. The Brewers struck out 15 times Saturday and also committed two errors, giving them seven in this series.

Despite the strikeouts and the miscues, things are going well for Milwaukee as it tries to head into the All-Star break with nine wins in its last 11 games.

The Brewers may end the first half with Ryan Braun not in the starting lineup. Braun exited Saturday's game with left calf tightness after going 0-for-4.

He had two stints on the disabled list with a strained left calf and is 10-for-40 since returning from the latest DL stint. Manager Craig Counsell described it as not being too serious and more like a cramp, but it seems possible Braun will sit out to get five full days off.

One Brewer who is hoping to get in the game is All-Star closer Corey Knebel. Knebel struggled with location throughout his outing Saturday and blew his fourth save when Frazier slugged a 1-0 fastball over the left field wall.

"It's tough, but the thing about it is the game's over now," Knebel said. "Come back at it tomorrow."

The Yankees will hope Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA) can conclude an uneven first half by continuing his recent turnaround.

He is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last eight starts. The two wins have followed a stretch where Tanaka was 0-6 during an eight-game winless skid.

Tanaka last pitched against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday, when he allowed one run and five hits in seven innings.

"He's our guy. He's a '1' and he's been a '1' for a while now," New York third baseman Chase Headley said. "Obviously, the season has not started the way he hoped or the way he's capable of, but by the same token, we know what kind of pitcher he is and what kind of pitcher he's going to be going forward."

In his only career start against the Brewers, Tanaka allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings in Milwaukee on May 9, 2014.

Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20) can match his win total from last season when he pitches for Milwaukee. After going 8-16 last season, Nelson has emerged as the Brewers' most consistent starting pitcher, especially of late.

He is 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA in his last 12 starts after allowing an unearned run and six hits in seven innings during a 6-2 win over Baltimore Tuesday.

"I didn't have my best fastball (in that outing), but I was able to throw my off-speed stuff for strikes, especially early in the game," Nelson said.

Nelson has never faced the Yankees, who are 11-1 in their last 12 home meetings with the Brewers since 1996 when the teams were in the American League.

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