The New York Yankees are looking to put an ugly June behind them in which they finished tied for the third-worst record in baseball.
Having Andy Pettitte on the mound to face the Minnesota Twins could help them avoid their first six-game losing streak in six seasons.
Pettitte has won his last 10 overall decisions against the Twins and will start Monday night for the visiting Yankees in the opener of a four-game set.
New York (42-39) has totaled 13 runs while batting .238 during its second five-game slide of the season - both have come in the past three weeks. The Yankees finished 11-16 in June to match Seattle, and now look to avoid their first six-game skid since dropping seven straight April 20-27, 2007.
Sunday night's 4-2 loss at Baltimore capped a weekend in which New York went 6 for 32 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees are hitting .236 in that department for the AL's second-worst mark.
"This is like life," manager Joe Girardi said. "Everything is not going to be easy. You find ways to get through it. I'm not going to get frustrated. I know the effort these guys are putting in. I'm going to stick up for them."
Pettitte (5-6, 4.22 ERA) is seeking to avoid losing four straight starts for the first time since dropping five in a row in 2008.
The veteran left-hander could be in good position to end his woes since he is 10-0 with a 2.33 ERA in his last 11 starts against the Twins (36-42), including three in the postseason. Pettitte hasn't lost to Minnesota since 2001 and has a 1.71 ERA in winning all three of his outings at Target Field.
Joe Mauer is 6 for 20 against Pettitte and Justin Morneau 5 for 19. Minnesota has faced fewer left-handed starters than any team in baseball, going 7-6.
Mauer, however, is hitless in his last 16 at_bats although he is batting .345 against New York since 2011.
The Yankees are 15-12 against lefties as they face southpaw Scott Diamond (5-7, 5.40), who allowed five runs over four innings in his lone start against them in a 6-4 defeat Sept. 19, 2011.
Diamond is 2-5 with a 6.21 ERA in seven home starts and posted a 5.74 ERA in June for his worst month of the year.
These teams have yet to meet. New York has captured the season series the previous six years, taking four of seven 2012 meetings. The Twins have changed considerably since they were swept in a 2010 division series by the Yankees.
"They have a bunch of young players that are very athletic that can play the game and are learning how to play the game and they have some new pitchers as well," Girardi said. "It's a team that's changed a lot over the last three years."
One of those young players, Chris Parmelee, made several mistakes in the outfield in Sunday's 9-8 loss to Kansas City.
"Mental mistakes, and those things kill you, probably as much as physical," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Morneau went 7 for 15 with a homer, four doubles and six RBIs as the Twins settled for a four-game split. Minnesota dropped six of nine to finish June with a 13-13 mark.
The Associated Press News Service
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