MINNEAPOLIS — As bad as Yankees fans at times think their club has been this season, they’ve been given opportunity to see what a truly hideous baseball team looks like the last couple of days.
A night after fighting tooth and nail before finally subduing the Twins, the Yankees whacked the American League’s worst team, 8-2, Friday night at Target Field.
The Yankees (33-34), surely feeling fortunate to have two more games this weekend against the Twins (20-47), had 14 hits, three by Carlos Beltran, including his team-best 17th homer. Beltran’s blast was part of a four-run first inning.
Masahiro Tanaka (4-2), coming off one of his worst starts of the season, had his way with a Twins team that stranded nine runners over five innings the night before.
Tanaka faced few real jams, allowing one run and seven hits in eight innings, lowering his ERA to 2.91 from 3.08. The righthander, who stranded six, struck out five and did not walk a batter in throwing a season-high 110 pitches.
It took the Yankees five pitches to take the lead against lefthander Pat Dean (1-3, 5.54), making his sixth career big-league start, and 13 pitches to make it apparent the 27-year-old was overmatched.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single, making him 15 for his last 45, and Rob Refsnyder (two hits) slammed a flat 0-and-1 fastball into the gap in left-center, his fifth double of the season, making it 1-0.
Beltran, making his second straight start after missing two games because of swelling in his left knee, launched a hanging full-count slider into the second deck in left to make it 3-0.
Starlin Castro walked with one out and Chase Headley (two hits, two walks) doubled off the wall in right. Didi Gregorius, hitting a team-best .368 versus lefties this season, smashed a grounder to first that went for an infield single, bringing in Castro to make it 4-0. Austin Romine hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the 30-pitch inning.
The Twins got their one run in the second. Trevor Plouffe led off with a single and went to third when Eduardo Escobar hit one off the top of the big wall in right, missing a homer by feet and having to settle for a double. Max Kepler’s groundout to second brought in Plouffe to make it 4-1.
The Yankees knocked Dean from the game in the third as Alex Rodriguez and Castro opened with singles and Headley walked to load the bases. Gregorius grounded to second, getting A-Rod in, and Paul Molitor decided to call on righty Neil Ramirez to face Romine. The backup catcher slammed a 1-and-1 slider to left-center for a two-run double that made it 7-1.
Refsnyder singled and scored, on Castro’s sacrifice fly, in the fourth to make it 8-1.
Escobar’s homer off Nick Goody in the ninth made it 8-2.
Notes & quotes: C Brian McCann, who got the night off as Romine started in his place, has been slumping. Going into Friday, the 32-year-old had a .211/.320/.383 slash line with eight homers and 27 RBIs, but only two homers and nine RBIs in his previous 19 games (in which he’s slashed .098/.233/.235). “It’s not anything I can really put a finger on,” Girardi said. “He’s just not getting a lot of hits. I don’t see much different in him mechanically, but he’s just kind of going through a tough time.” . . . RHP Michael Pineda enters Saturday’s start 3-7 with a 5.88 ERA but has been better his last three starts, allowing a combined six runs, which has brought his ERA down from 6.92. “I feel like he’s turned the corner,” Girardi said. “But that doesn’t mean that you can relax and let your guard down. You have to stay on top of things.”