The New York Yankees will go for their seventh win in a row when they open a three-game road trip against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night in Minneapolis.
New York is coming off a perfect 6-0 homestand that included three-game sweeps against the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers. The Yankees outscored those opponents 38-7 during those contests and moved to a season-high 24 games above .500.
"I think we're just playing good baseball," said Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson, who will face his former teammates when he returns to Minnesota. "Our pitching really set the tone early for (the team's most recent) series. We just didn't give them much at all."
Now comes a tough test against the Twins, who will open a six-game homestand. Minnesota is coming off a series win against the Toronto Blue Jays, with the Twins taking the opener and finale.
Yankees right-hander Jameson Taillon (6-1, 2.30 ERA) will try to stay hot after turning in back-to-back stellar performances over his last two outings. Taillon pitched eight scoreless innings with two hits allowed in a win over the Tampa Bay Rays on May 27. He followed that with an eight-inning, one-run performance -- allowing only two hits once again -- Thursday against the Angels.
Taillon took a perfect game into the eighth against Los Angeles and got the victory.
In three career starts against the Twins, Taillon is 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA.
Minnesota has not named a starter for the series opener. Bailey Ober is expected to be placed on the injured list because of a groin injury, and someone will need to fill his spot in the rotation.
One option is right-hander Cole Sands (0-1, 7.88), who filled in for a start Tuesday in a doubleheader. Sands has appeared in three games this season, including twice out of the bullpen.
The 24-year-old former Florida State hurler never has faced the Yankees.
Just as Donaldson will face his former team, so too will a pair of ex-Yankees who now play for Minnesota. Before the start of the season, New York shipped catcher Gary Sanchez and infielder Gio Urshela to the Twins in exchange for Donaldson, infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt.
Sanchez acknowledged that he would feel emotional playing against New York, where he spent parts of seven seasons. He hit 138 homers in 538 games with the Yankees.
"Maybe a lot of adrenaline that day," Sanchez said through an interpreter when asked about Tuesday's first appearance against the Yankees. "But at the same time, (I'm) excited to come out with my new team."
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said both Sanchez and Urshela have fit in well in their new clubhouse. Baldelli knows the feeling of going from a high-pressure media market to a smaller one, which happened to him as a player when he returned to the Rays after a season with the Boston Red Sox.
"A lot of times in the big markets, the expectation levels are at points that are just not reachable for any player," Baldelli said. "... You shouldn't have to worry about (that). You should be able to just go out there and do your job."