Brian Roberts' four extra-base hits lead Yankees over Twins
Zelous Wheeler and Carlos Beltran stole the show Thursday night when their homers helped the Yankees snap a five-game skid.
Then Brian Roberts stole it Friday, collecting four extra-base hits as the Yankees earned a 6-5 victory over the Twins in front of 36,952 at Target Field.
Batting second with Derek Jeter given the day off, Roberts went 4-for-5 with three doubles, a triple, two runs and an RBI. He became the first Yankee since Alex Rodriguez in 2005 to get four extra-base hits in a game.
"We've said all along that his numbers are not indicative of how he's swung the bat," Joe Girardi said. "We think he's hit the ball pretty hard.''
Roberts, 36, had totaled only six extra-base hits in 92 at-bats in his previous 28 games, hitting .217 with a .294 on-base percentage in that stretch. He entered Friday hitting .237 with a .309 OBP. "I didn't feel it's been as bad as it's looked,'' he said, "but at some point, you have to get hits."
The Yankees (43-42), who had six doubles and two triples in the game, are off to a 2-0 start on this 11-game, three-city trip that takes them up to the All-Star break. After scoring 13 runs in their five-game losing streak, they have scored 13 runs in the first two games against the Twins (38-47).
"I really think guys are starting to swing the bats a lot better," Roberts said. "We've been able to put up a few more runs lately . . . Hitting is contagious; I think it goes both ways."
Roberts' performance was only part of the afternoon's story for the Yankees, who built a five-run lead in the top of the second as the Twins' Kyle Gibson lasted only those two innings.
Brett Gardner tripled and Roberts and Mark Teixeira hit long RBI doubles to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the first before Carlos Beltran added a sacrifice fly. Doubles by Francisco Cervelli and Roberts and a two-out, two-run single by Jacoby Ellsbury made it 6-1 in the second.
But Chase Whitley lasted only three innings, and after he allowed the Twins to get within 6-4, David Huff played a big role with three perfect innings.
Huff, acquired from the Giants on June 11 for cash considerations after pitching for the Yankees last year, has not started a game in 2014 but has in the past. He could be a rotation option if Whitley, who has allowed 17 runs and 27 hits in 101/3 innings in his last three starts, continues to struggle.
"I think I am ," Huff said. "I don't know how long I could possibly go, I haven't done it yet this year, so we'd have to see."
Dellin Betances allowed a run in the eighth and nearly gave up the tying run, too. But with a runner at third, Teixeira made a diving stop to his right on Eduardo Escobar's ground smash and flipped to Betances to end the inning. "That's a huge play or we're in a tie ballgame," Girardi said.
After striking out three Twins in the ninth inning Thursday night, David Robertson struck out the first two batters in the ninth Friday before allowing a double by Kurt Suzuki. Robertson fell behind Chris Parmelee 3-and-1 but caught him looking to record his 20th save in 22 chances.
"It's definitely a better feeling," Robertson said of the clubhouse mood the last two days. "Everyone's relaxed a little bit. Now we have to start winning more."
Notes & quotes: Friday's outing aside, Betances has been among baseball's most dominant relievers and very well could be tabbed for the AL All-Star team Sunday. But Robertson has been nearly as good, flying "under the radar," Girardi said. "Which isn't a bad thing considering the shoes he was expected to step into," the manager said, a reference to all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera . . . Brian McCann spent Friday on the bench, given a day to rest his sore left foot. He expects to be in the lineup Saturday.