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Yankees 2, Twins 1: McKinney homers, Montgomery impresses

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Superb pitching and timely hitting lifted New York to victory.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Billy McKinney hit his fifth home run of spring training, a solo blast to right-center field. Jordan Montgomery threw six strong innings, while Domingo German tossed three scoreless frames. That’s how the Yankees nailed down a 2 - 1 victory over the Twins on Thursday afternoon.

Montgomery appeared in mid-season form today, slicing his way through Minnesota’s batting order. He allowed a single to leadoff hitter Ehire Adrianza in the first inning, but promptly erased him on a double-play groundball. Adrianza remained the only player to reach base versus Montgomery until the fourth.

After striking out Adrianza to begin the fourth inning, Montgomery coughed up back-to-back singles to Erick Aybar and Eduardo Escobar. He pitched out of the jam nicely by retiring Robbie Grossman on a fly out and Logan Morrison on a popout.

The left-hander ran into trouble again in the fifth, loading the bases without recording an out. Montgomery limited the damage, though, allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly. He finished strong, working around a two-out walk in the sixth.

All totaled, Montgomery threw six innings while allowing one run on six hits. He walked one and struck out two. It was his fifth start of the spring.

McKinney got the Yankees on the board in the sixth. Batting with two outs, he blasted a hanging slider from Phil Hughes over the right-center field wall to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

Otherwise, the Bombers didn’t generate much offense today. They managed only seven hits and two walks off of Minnesota pitching, but it was enough to grab the win. Most of the Yankees’ regulars didn’t make the road trip. Only five players in the starting lineup figure to head north with the team next week..

New York took the lead for good in the sixth. Tyler Austin ripped a two-out double off of Fernando Rodney. Austine Romine then singled him home.

Also of note, Jacoby Ellsbury started in center field. He is still on the mend from the oblique injury. Ellsbury batted leadoff, drawing a walk to begin the game.

Domingo German came on in the seventh and made the lead hold up, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced. The only Twin to reach base safely against German was Taylor Fetherston. He reached leading off the eighth on an error by shortstop Abiatal Avelino. German was dominant, striking out two to earn his first save.

Listening to Alex Rodriguez handle color commentary in the ESPN booth was the highlight of this game. When he interviewed his former teammate, Hughes said “Alex sees things that no one else sees” and will be great in the booth.

A-Rod asked manager Aaron Boone about how he intends to handle the “three-headed monster” of Sanchez, Judge, and Stanton. Boone replied that he plans to almost certainly break the trio of right-handed hitters up, particularly when facing a righty starter.

When asked about the new mound-visit rule, Rodriguez said he likes it because it puts the onus on the coaches and players to communicate before and after the game. “We have a responsibility to keep the game moving forward and to keep the energy going,” said Rodriguez.

Opening Day is one week from today! Only five more spring training games remain before the Yankees’ quest for 28 officially begins.

Tomorrow, the Yankees have their second and final Grapefruit League contest with the archrival Boston Red Sox. Masahiro Tanaka will face Brian Johnson at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT and you can watch on ESPN or YES.