July 02, 2014

Sweeping a four-game series might be a rare occurrence for a team.

An exception can be made for the New York Yankees against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees will go for their third four-game sweep of the Twins in the last eight seasons Sunday afternoon at Target Field and will try to get over the .500 mark again.

The most recent sweep was July 1-4, 2013 in Minnesota when the Yankees scored 29 times and batted .282 while hitting three home runs. In the first three games of this series, New York scored 19 times, batted .320 and hit four home runs.

The latest win has some similarities with the four-game sweep in Yankee Stadium in 2009 when New York scored 11 times in the seventh inning or later.

On Saturday, the Yankees faced a 4-0 deficit but came back for a 7-6 victory. Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Ricky Nolasco and Carlos Beltran hit two-run shot off Kevin Jespen. After those home runs, the Yankees scored three times in the ninth on a two-run single by Jacoby Ellsbury and a sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner.

"Character win," Rodriguez said.

Beltran had another three hits and has 22 in his last 57 at-bats while leading the team with 18 home runs.

"He's been doing this for a long time now," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's a professional hitter and understands what he needs to do and he's been really big for our offense this year."

Beating the Twins frequently is nothing new for the Yankees, who have won 19 of 24 meetings at Target Field and are 71-27 against them since the start of the 2002 season.

New York scored 38 times, batted .320 and hit two home runs in a four-game sweep of Minnesota in 2003.

The Twins are 20-48 and have lost five in a row, marking the fourth time they have lost at least five straight this season.

Minnesota hit three home runs Saturday as Byung-ho Park, Kurt Suzuki and Eduardo Escobar homered. Suzuki's home run would have been the game-winner but Minnesota's pitching continued faltering as it has compiled a 6.33 ERA against the Yankees and an 6.40 ERA during the last five games.

"We've had a lot of losses," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You don't ever want to get comfortable. We've had trouble winning games that we have a chance to win late. There's not been a lot of those either, but today was one of them.''

The Yankees hope Nathan Eovaldi can find some semblance of his stuff from when he won five straight starts. He has a 9.82 ERA since his last win on May 29 and over his last three starts, the right-hander has allowed 16 earned runs and 26 hits.

The Twins have been swept nine times this season and will turn to Ervin Santana, who has plenty of experience facing the Yankees. Most of Santana's experiences against the Yankees have not gone well as the right-hander is 5-9 with a 6.22 ERA in 17 career starts against them.

Santana has not beaten the Yankees since pitching eight innings for the Angels in a 1-0 victory at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 1, 2008. He is 0-7 with a 6.60 ERA in his last 10 outings against the Yankees.

Those struggles against New York also mirror his struggles this season. Santana is 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA in his last five starts, raising his ERA from 3.13 to 5.10.

"He just hasn't been consistent like he has in the past," Molitor told reporters following Santana's last start on Tuesday.

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