Derek Jeter donned his customary pinstripes for the first time in nine months and immediately contributed to a New York Yankees offense that seems rejuvenated after a short slump.
The captain's solid history at the plate against Minnesota may be an indication that will continue as New York seeks a fifth straight victory over the struggling Twins on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.Jeter fractured his left ankle in Game 1 of the AL championship series against Detroit on Oct. 13. After an arduous rehabilitation process that included a setback in April when he fractured the ankle again, he had an infield single on the first pitch he saw and added an RBI groundout while making his season debut as the designated hitter in Thursday's 8-4 win over Kansas City."I was nervous going into the game," Jeter said.He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning because of a tight right quadriceps, but that shouldn't keep him out of the lineup Friday."Jete thinks he'll be ready to play," manager Joe Girardi said.Neither Girardi nor Jeter believe the minor injury was from rushing back too quickly."I think Derek would run himself out there the next 70 games if it was up to him," Girardi said. "I mean, that's just who he is. He expects to play every day. So from that standpoint I think we have to guard against rushing him back too much, and we have to pick days off, and we have to pick DH days."In the perfect world, you have a month of spring training, but this has not been a perfect world around here this year."The Yankees (50-42) scored eight times for the second straight game after finishing with one run in losing each of their previous three. They'll look to continue their hot hitting with the help of Jeter, who is batting .326, including the postseason, in his career versus Minnesota and .351 in the Bronx.New York did just fine without him, though, the last time it faced the Twins, scoring 29 runs in a four-game sweep July 1-4. It has won seven of the last eight meetings with Minnesota, which will try to avoid a sixth straight defeat after falling 4-3 to Tampa Bay on Thursday.The Twins (37-52) were no-hit until the sixth and finished with just four while losing for the 11th time in 12 tries."We've still got to put the ball in play better than we did the last couple of days, and that really affected the outcomes of games (during the four-game sweep)," manager Ron Gardenhire said.Minnesota will try to bounce back against Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda (7-6, 2.77 ERA), who has pitched at least seven innings without allowing a run five times. The right-hander gave up three hits in seven scoreless innings before Mariano Rivera allowed a two-run, ninth-inning homer to Adam Jones in a 2-1 loss to Baltimore on Sunday.It was the second time in those five outings Kuroda lost a potential victory due to a blown save by Rivera.Kuroda will be opposed by Scott Diamond (5-8, 5.52), who had one of his better outings July 1 when he gave up three runs while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings before Minnesota fell 10-4 to the Yankees.Things didn't go so well for him Sunday, when he allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings of an 11-5 loss to Toronto. The left-hander allowed three homers and has given up eight over his last four starts after permitting seven through his first 12.Diamond is 1-4 with a 7.03 ERA over his last six outings.
Hiroki Kuroda has pitched 12 consecutive scoreless innings, tied for the third-longest streak without allowing a run in his career.
Kuroda has not allowed a run in back-to-back starts, the first time he's done that in his Yankees career.