It looks as though facing the Twins' pitchers was exactly what the Yankees' offense needed to do to break out of its slump.
After scoring just 13 runs over five straight losses entering this series, the Yankees scored 17 runs in the first two games against the Twins. They'll try to add to that total on Wednesday as they look to win their first series since May 6-9, at Seattle.
Second baseman Robinson Cano has been the leader of the offensive surge, going 5-for-8 against Minnesota with three home runs, six RBIs and five runs through the two games. He's batting .571 on the current road trip.
"You know how much damage he can do, and he can get really, really hot," manager Joe Girardi said. "You look at the last four or five days, he's swung the bat really well. You want that really hot streak to go a long time. It's comforting."
Cano will look to keep his hot streak going against the Twins' P.J. Walters. Walters has given up six runs in each of his past two starts, lasting just two-thirds of an inning in a loss to Cleveland on June 22 and three innings in a loss to Kansas City on Friday.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said that the young right-hander has "struggled to put the ball where he wanted to" recently. Walters understands that everyone in the league struggles but called putting bad starts back to back "unacceptable."
"That's two in a row where I hadn't done my job," Walters said on Friday. "Falling behind, obviously, last week it was walking guys, today it was falling behind and giving up hits. Either way it was two bad ones in a row. I've got to come back and straighten some things out."
Left-hander CC Sabathia will be on the mound for the Yankees, and he'll be coming off one of his toughest games of the season. Sabathia carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Orioles on Friday before letting a three-run lead get away in an eventual loss.
Sabathia struggled throughout June, allowing four or more runs in four of his five starts and compiling a 5.11 ERA. He'll look to turn the corner on Wednesday and get July off to a good start.
"I feel like I'm wasting starts," Sabathia said after the loss in Baltimore. "I'm feeling great and throwing the ball good. I've just not been able to put together a whole start. It's just frustrating."
Yankees: Wells hoping to put struggles in past
Veteran outfielder Vernon Wells went 2-for-3 on Monday, hitting two solid singles to left before Ichiro Suzuki pinch-hit for him in the eighth inning. It might not seem like much, but the two-hit performance marked Wells' best night at the plate in nearly a month.
Monday's game was Wells' first multihit performance since June 8 and just his second since May 10.
"My swing is good. We worked on a couple of things as far as emphasizing using my backside more," Wells said. "I wanted to use my hands so much, I ended up pretty much only using my hands and not really getting my lower half into my swing. Obviously, I got the results in the game, but just during batting practice and the work today, the ball is jumping off my bat like it should."
After batting .184 in May and June, Wells has become a part-time player, ceding a lot of the playing time against right-handed pitchers to rookie Zoilo Almonte. Wells was out of the lineup on Tuesday against the Twins' Samuel Deduno but could start on Wednesday.
"I just know that every day is a new day," he said. "We'll start July off in a better way. We always have to look at the next day and not worry about what took place last month or yesterday. It's about continuing to try to get better each and every day."
Twins: Willingham opts for surgery on knee
The Yankees won't be facing Josh Willingham for a while. The Twins placed the outfielder on the disabled list with a meniscus tear and bone bruise in his left knee on Tuesday, and he has decided to undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair the tear. Willingham, who will miss four to six weeks, is batting .224 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs.
"We knew that we had to have my knee cleaned up at some point, probably at the end of the year," Willingham said. "So it made sense with the [two to four weeks it takes] the bone bruise to heal. So we made the decision that way."
Willingham was replaced on the roster by rookie outfielder Aaron Hicks. After spending more than three weeks on the DL with a strained left hamstring, Hicks was back in action on Tuesday, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
"It's just one of those things where you can't wait to be back on the field," Hicks said. "It was good to go down there and play a few games to get ready to go. So I'm ready."
• Yankees shortstop Jayson Nix is day to day with an injured right hamstring. Nix hurt the hamstring running out a double in the ninth inning of the Yankees' 10-4 win over the Twins on Monday. Alberto Gonzalez started in his place on Tuesday and made the most of his start, knocking in three runs and making a dazzling defensive play.
• Twins catcher Joe Mauer snapped out of an 0-for-18 slump on Tuesday, hitting an RBI single in the third inning. He finished the game 1-for-4.
• With his single to center in the fifth inning on Tuesday, David Adams snapped an 0-for-32 skid by Yankees third basemen.
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.