The Twins have lost 12 of their last 13 games, and the Yankees are a big part of that.
New York has claimed each of the last five meetings between the two clubs, including a four-game sweep at Target Field at the beginning of July. Minnesota is still searching for its second win of the month and an end to its six-game skid and even greater slump.
"It's not easy," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before Friday's 2-0 loss. "It's a tough go. I feel for my coaches and the guys in the clubhouse who are trying so hard. I don't get much sleep trying to figure out what to do next to try to turn this thing. So yes, I understand the situation where we're playing some kids, but my job is to find a way to win games, and we haven't been able to do that, so I don't feel too good about it."
Although Gardenhire has faced a lot of heat from both fans and the media recently, he's not ready to pack it in. He feels that his team could turn things around and start a 10-game winning streak as easily as they could find themselves in a 10-game losing streak.
That process starts once again on Saturday in the second game of the set at Yankee Stadium. According to Gardenhire, the key to turning things around in such a historic setting is to simply relax.
"We have to relax and just have fun and enjoy the game," he said. "We're on the big stage, but you just have to relax and just play baseball. So hopefully, the kids do that. This is a good place to learn baseball and hopefully, we'll have fun. We have some good left-handed hitters here with a short porch, so hopefully, they take their normal swings and not to try to hit it too hard. So we'll see what happens."
Saturday will feature the same pitching matchup as the July 2 tilt between these teams -- a 7-3 Yankees victory -- as the Twins' Samuel Deduno and Yankees' Phil Hughes are set to start.
Deduno is 4-4 on the season, with a 3.90 ERA, in nine starts. In that outing against the Yankees, he took the loss after giving up three runs on five hits and a walk through six innings.
Hughes, meanwhile, earned the win that day, giving up one run on six hits and two walks in seven innings. Through 17 starts, he is 4-8 with a 4.55 ERA.
Twins: Keeping an eye on Cano
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano made his last meeting with Minnesota a memorable one. During that four-game series, he went 7-for-15 with two doubles and three home runs.
Prior to Friday night's game, Gardenhire said the Twins planned to approach Cano the same as before.
"Bounce it, like we tried to do last series," Gardenhire said. "He's a great hitter, and when you're trying not to let someone beat you, if you leave pitches up, it'll kill [you]. So in those situations, we'll try as best as we can and try to keep him from doing all that damage like last time. I think the last game, we finally bounced a couple and got him, and then we got the Bronx cheer."
Cano went 1-for-2 on Friday with two walks and an RBI.
Yankees: Jeter on hold
Derek Jeter finally returned to the Yankees' lineup on Thursday, against the Royals, only to exit early with a strained right quad. After an MRI performed on Friday morning confirmed the injury, it was decided that Jeter would be held out of this weekend's action with the Twins and therefore won't return to the lineup until after the break -- at the earliest.
"It's frustrating," Jeter said in a statement. "I don't know what else you want me to say. I worked hard to get to the point of rejoining the team yesterday. It's not how you draw it up, but hopefully, I'll be back out there soon and help this team win some games."
It is believed that Jeter sustained the injury running to first base in his third at-bat of the game -- and of the season. General manager Brian Cashman can't guarantee Jeter won't have to go back on the disabled list.
• A 73-minute rain delay disrupted Friday night's action. Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda went back out to pitch the fifth after the delay and threw 18 pitches for three outs. The extra work earned him the win.
• In Friday's shutout loss, the Twins went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.