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Yankees pitcher Nathan Eovaldi a launchpad for home runs

Nathan Eovaldi reacts after surrendering his third home

Nathan Eovaldi reacts after surrendering his third home run in a row in the sixth inning against the Twins at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 26, 2016. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The home run flights took off Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium during back-to-back-to-back at-bats with two outs in the sixth inning. Nathan Eovaldi suddenly was throwing batting practice to the team with the majors’ worst record.

After managing only one run off him in the first five innings, they scored four by launching those three home runs in a row. That’s something you don’t see here every day. It was only the second time the Yankees had yielded three straight homers in the Bronx since 1914.

Eovaldi gave up six hits, and a career-high four went over a fence. Minnesota ended up with six homers and a 7-1 win to salvage the series finale and improve to 24-51.

“I felt great,” Eovaldi said after allowing five runs in six innings. “The split’s been feeling a lot better. The same with the slider. It was just that one inning I fell apart.”

The enigmatic Eovaldi has allowed at least four runs in five straight starts and at least five runs in four of them, going 0-3 with an 8.65 ERA in that span. That followed a run of five straight starts in which he allowed three or fewer runs, going 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA.

The 26-year-old righthander’s inconsistency is reflected in his record (6-5) and ERA (5.19), not a good follow-up to his first season with the Yankees, the one with the 14-3 bottom line and 4.20 ERA.

The home run ball has been a problem. He has yielded at least one in five straight starts and 10 total during that stretch. So the count is up to a career-high 17 across 15 starts.

Eovaldi said he’s been hurt by getting in bad counts and added that 17 is an alarming number. “I’ve just got to do a better job of executing, and I’ve got to keep attacking,” he said.

Danny Santana pulled a 98-mph fastball into the rightfield seats for a 1-0 lead in the third.

In the sixth, Eovaldi had two outs and the Twins had nobody on. “I thought his stuff was real ly good up until that point,” Joe Girardi said.

Then Eovaldi walked Joe Mauer on a 3-and-2 pitch, and the door was open. Brian Dozier drove a hanging 1-and-0 splitter into the leftfield seats, Trevor Plouffe rocketed a hanging 3-and-2 slider way over that leftfield fence and Max Kep ler sent an 0-and-1 curve into the rightfield seats. Eovaldi was down 5-0 just like that.

“It just seems like he lost his stuff,” Girardi said.

Brian McCann thought it was a location problem, but he also second-guessed himself over the fingers he flashed for Eovaldi.

“Absolutely,” McCann said. “You second-guess any hit. It’s baseball. You tip your hat. They didn’t miss the pitches they got.”

Nathan’s Infamous

Nathan Eovaldi had won all six of his decisions, a stretch from April 25 to May 29. But in five June starts, he went 0-3 with two no-decisions. His ERA has jumped from 3.71 to 5.19 since the start of the month. A look at his last three starts.

Date Result Team Innings Runs Home Runs

Yesterday Loss, 7-1 Twins 6 5 4

June 19 Loss, 7-4 Twins 5 1⁄3 4 1

June 14 Loss, 13-10 Rockies 4 6 2

Totals: 0-3, 15 1⁄3 Innings, 15 Runs, 7 Home Runs

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