MINNEAPOLIS - What a turnaround for Nathan Eovaldi.
He experienced the worst start of his career June 16 in Miami, allowing eight runs and nine hits in two-thirds of an inning, but has gone 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA in seven games since then, including what might have been the best start of his Yankees career on Sunday. He gave up one run in the first eight innings before Justin Wilson allowed Eovaldi's runner to score in the ninth in a 7-2 victory over the Twins.
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The key has been his splitter, which he added to his repertoire late last season while with the Marlins and has continuously refined under the direction of pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
"The split-fingered fastball has taken his game to another level," Brian McCann said. "Gets hitters off his fastball . . . It's turned into a way-above-average pitch. He's getting amazing action on it."
Eovaldi brought a 15-35 record into this season but is 10-2. Said Joe Girardi: "It's just the maturation process, and he's doing it right in front of us."
"I just feel like I'm developing better as a pitcher," Eovaldi said. "Using the split has helped me out a lot, working with Larry and Mac behind the plate. All of it together has helped me develop into a better pitcher."
Ellsbury hangs in
Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-5 but played a significant role in keeping the Twins off the board early. He crashed into the wall in center in the second while tracking down Trevor Plouffe's drive and made a diving catch of Joe Mauer's flare to short left-center to end the third, saving a run. Ellsbury rammed his left shoulder into the wall on Plouffe's drive and was seen with ice on the shoulder after the game.
"Two great plays," Eovaldi said.
Headley heats up
Chase Headley went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, improving to 21-for-61 (.344) with 11 RBIs in July. "I really didn't feel like I was swinging the bat as bad as what the numbers said," he said. "When that's happening, you have to keep going and trust that it's going to work out."