Struggling to score runs and, more importantly, win games, the Yankees made change to their 25-man roster on Thursday, optioning Yangervis Solarte, who has been awful since about mid-May, to Triple-A Scranton, and calling up third baseman Zelous Wheeler, who is in the starting lineup tonight for his big league debut.
The Yankees have lost five straight games and 9 of their last 11 as they open up a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins tonight at Target Field, where the Yankees are 16-3 all-time, and 73-24 against the Twins during the Ron Gardenhire era.
Minnesota, 38-45 and sitting in last place in the AL Central, just lost two of it's three games against the Kansas City Royals this week, and has dropped seven of it's last nine games. The Yankees and Twins met at Yankee Stadium a couple weeks ago, with Minnesota taking two of the three games.
The Yankees are struggling right now, so if there was any team they'd want to be playing right now to help turn things around, it would be the Twins -- hopefully.
Tonight's lineup against Minnesota:
LF Brett Gardner
SS Derek Jeter
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
DH Carlos Beltran
RF Ichiro Suzuki
3B Zelous Wheeler
2B Brendan Ryan
Pitching matchup preview:
Every team needs to have a stopper to help end a losing streak, and with the Yankees having lost five straight, they'll be counting on Masahiro Tanaka, the team's best pitcher this season.
Tanaka enters his start tonight tied with Felix Hernandez for the American League in ERA (2.10), tied with the Tigers' Rick Porcello for the Major League lead in wins (11) and has recorded a quality start in all of his outings.
Tanaka is coming off of his second straight loss, but it has nothing to do with bad pitching. He tossed a complete game against the Boston Red Sox last Saturday, giving up just two runs, both solo homeruns, including one to Mike Napoli with two outs in the 9th to break a 1-1 tie.
On the mound for Minnesota is a guy that the Yankees are very familiar with, right-hander Phil Hughes, who has already faced his former club one this season. Hughes faced the Yankees in the Bronx in June 1, getting the win after tossing eight innings on two-run ball.
Hughes has been impressive with the Twins this season after an awful 2013 campaign, but has hit a wall lately, giving up a combined 10 runs in 12 2/3 innings over his last two starts.