Results tagged ‘ CC Sabathia ’

Yankees’ offense has completely stalled

The Yankees cannot say they have not gotten help elsewhere in the American League wild card race. Now they have to start helping themselves.

Friday night, the Angels scored six runs in the ninth inning to stun the Astros, 10-6. Saturday, the Royals scored five runs in the ninth inning to upend the Tigers, 7-4. These results were music to the Yankees’ ears because the losers were clubs in front of them in the wild card hunt.

So what did the Yanks do for themselves? Absolutely nothing.

They failed to score either night and have now been shut out in three straight games for the first time in 41 seasons. The 1975 Yankees did not make it to postseason play, either, although there was no wild card entry in those days.

The Yanks did not lose ground because of Detroit’s loss, but they wasted an opportunity to gain ground rather than stay four games behind the Tigers with the 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays, who have a firm grip on the first wild card spot. Furthermore, the Yankees lost another day on the schedule and wasted a strong start from CC Sabathia, who remained winless in six starts since his most recent victory Aug. 23 but not for lack of effort. He has pitched to a 2.83 ERA over that period but all he has to show for it are two losses and four no-decisions.

Sabathia matched Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman in throwing zeroes for seven innings. The lefthander scattered four hits and three walks and had only two strikeouts, which was fine because it prevented his pitch count (91) from being an issue.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi reacted sharply to reporters who questioned his bullpen usage in the previous game when he let Blake Parker pitch with a 3-0 deficit and watched it soar to 7-0. Where was Adam Warren or Tyler Clippard, some writers wanted to know, in the late innings of a three-run game?

Well, there was Clippard (3-5) in the eighth inning of a tie game Saturday, and what was the result? He got two quick groundouts before Josh Donaldson singled in front of Brett Gardner playing no-doubles defense in left field.

A wild pitch put Donaldson in scoring position. After Edwin Encarnacion walked, Clippard fell behind 2-0 to Jose Bautista and came in with a fastball that was crushed to left field for the only runs of the game.

On the Yankees side, there was more anemic offense. They had three hits, one of which was a two-out triple by Ronald Torreyes that threatened to end the scoreless streak, but Jason Grilli (7-5) struck out pinch hitter Billy Butler.

The Yankees have gone 27 innings without scoring and are hitless in 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position over that stretch. Other contending clubs have opened lanes for them, but the Yankees continue to stand still

Sanchez lone highlight in lost weekend at Boston

If not for Gary Sanchez, there would not have been much for a Yankees fan to cheer about this weekend. Sanchez kept up his remarkable productivity in his first full month as a major leaguer by going 7-for-19 (.368) with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI in the four games at Fenway Park.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, all of that was for naught as they lost all four games to mark their first sweep of a series of at least four games in Boston since June 4-7, 1990. That was the series where Stump Merrill succeeded Bucky Dent as manager in one of the lowest points in franchise history.

This Yankees team was a far better bunch that the cellar dwellers of 26 seasons ago and entered Red Sox Nation on a high more after a 7-3 homestand put them in solid contention for a Wild Card berth in the playoffs. Thursday night, the Yankees were two outs from being only one game away from the second Wild Card slot and just three games out of first place in the American League East.

But a five-run ninth inning climaxed by Hanley Ramirez’s three-run home run off Dellin Betances knocked the Yankees off course and set the tone for a devastating weekend. Ramirez was it again Sunday night as he slugged two more home runs in yet another Red Sox comeback victory. Just as they had done in the series opener, the Yankees squandered a 4-0 lead in the finale as well.

The Yankees failed to hold leads in three of the four games. CC Sabathia cruised through four innings and nearly got through the fifth as well until his own glaring error opened the gate for the Red Sox. Boston had runners on first and second with one out when Mookie Betts hit a scorching liner to the center of the infield that was gloved by Sabathia. He tried to double Xander Bogaerts off first base but threw wildly past Billy Butler. That play gave a free at-bat to Ramirez, who socked a three-run homer over the Green Monster to make it a one-run game.

Sabathia surrendered the lead in the fifth by yielding successive singles to Travis Shaw, Aaron Hill and Jackie Bradley Jr. Blake Parker did a tremendous job keeping the score 4-4 by striking out David Ortiz, who did not start and came up as a pinch hitter, and retiring Dustin Pedroia on a fielder’s choice and Bogaerts on a strikeout.

Ramirez struck again the next inning, however, by driving a Tyler Clippard changeup over the Monster for his second homer of the game and 28th of the season. Ramirez terrorized the Yankees all weekend by going 9-for-16 (.538) with a double, four homers and nine RBI.

The Yankees’ losing streak has reached five games and leaves them four games behind the Blue Jays for the second Wild Card spot. In addition, the Yankees are two games behind the Tigers and the Mariners and one game back of the Astros, all teams the Yanks had passed during a seven-game winning streak. They get a needed day off Monday before continuing the trip with a three-game series against their Rays at Tropicana Field.

Girardi’s hunch to stay with Austin pays big dividend

The Yankees had to wait until two out in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday night for one of the Baby Bombers to make a major contribution. It turned out to be a big one, an opposite-field home run to right by Tyler Austin that produced a 5-4 victory over the Rays.

Prior to that, the Yankees’ offense was powered by veterans. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury both singled in the first inning and scored on a out-single by Didi Gregorius and an errant pickoff attempt by Rays starter Alex Cobb.

Their other two runs were courtesy of two long home runs by Brian McCann, one into the second deck in the fourth inning and one into the suites section between the second and third decks in the second inning. McCann, who was 3-for-4, is enjoying a .455 homestand with three home runs and five RBI in 11 at-bats.

McCann lost his regular catching job to rookie sensation Gary Sanchez and has not made a peep about all the while contributing in his at-bats as a designated hitter. Mac was back behind the plate Thursday night and did his usual solid job, especially in the fifth when rookie Jonathan Holder nearly balked home the tying run. Mac claimed that Holder was merely requesting to go through the signs again in moving his glove, an argument continued by Girardi, who was able to get plate umpire Mike Everitt to confer with the other umps. The group decision upheld McCann’s point of view, and the Yankees caught a huge break.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had another veteran available in the dugout as a possible pinch hitter for Austin in the ninth after the Rays brought in righthander Erasmo Ramirez with two outs and none on. Mark Teixeira, with 405 career home runs, was on the bench, but Girardi stayed with Austin.

“I like the way he has been swinging the bat lately,” Girardi said of Austin, who has six hits in the past four games, four of them for extra bases. “With that splitter Ramirez has, right-handed hitters sometimes have an advantage over left-handed hitters.”

The switch-hitting Teixeira would have batted left-handed against Ramirez. Girardi played a hunch, and it paid off.

Girardi had a busy night navigating his pitching staff on a night when relievers Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances were virtually unavailable because of heavy recent use. Despite that, the skipper did not hesitate to lift an ineffective CC Sabathia with two on and none out in the fifth.

Sabathia had given up two home runs to Kevin Kiermaier and one to Steven Souza Jr. Holder was also victimized by Souza in the sixth that made the score 4-4, which is where it stayed until Austin came to bat in the ninth. The score remained that way because of the ensemble relief effort of Chasen Shreve, Blake Parker, Kirby Yates and Tommy Layne.

The Yanks’ fifth straight victory pushed their record to a season-high nine games over .500 at 74-65 as they leaped over another club, the Astros, in the sweepstakes for the second Wild Card slot. The Yankees had already sped by the Mariners and the Royals and now have their sights set on the Orioles (two games behind) and the Tigers (one game behind). Baltimore and Detroit were not scheduled Thursday night.

Neither was Boston, so the Yankees picked up a half-game on the American League East leader and are only four games out of first place in the division.

Yanks won’t catch Orioles this weekend

The Yankees had gotten use to hopping over contenders for a wild card playoff berth in recent weeks. They did so to the Mariners and to the Royals and we’re hoping to do the same to the Orioles this weekend.

Not going to happen.

Baltimore threw nine more zeroes against the Yankees Saturday night for its second straight shutout. Not surprisingly, Orioles righthander Kevin Gausman had his way with the Yanks as he has had much of the season. Gausman is 7-10 overall but 2-1 with a 0.80 ERA in 33 2/3 inning against the Yankees. In his career against the Yanks, Gausman is 5-3 with a 1.87 ERA in 72 1/3 innings.

Gausman has pitched 13 scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts in his past two starts against the Yankees. He held them to two singles through six innings Saturday night with eight strikeouts, the biggest of which was against Starlin Castro with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Brian McCann followed with a soft fly ball to center field that ended the only real rally the Yanks could mount in the game. They have had six hits, all singles, over the past two nights against Baltimore pitching.

It was a tough loss for CC Sabathia, who gave up two runs (one earned) over six innings. An error by rookie right fielder Aaron Judge led to the first run off Sabathia in the fourth. The next inning, Adam Jones connected with two out for his 25th home run of the season and the fifth by the Orioles in the series.

The Yankees’ third consecutive shutout loss to Baltimore dropped them 4 1/2 games behind the O’s for that second wild card spot. In addition, the Royals were in position to move ahead of the Yankees again.

3-game sweep keeps eluding Yankees

Maybe the Yankees just wore themselves out the previous two games. After combining for 27 runs and 36 hits Friday night and Saturday, the Yanks came out flat against the Orioles Sunday and were shut out in failing once again to sweep a three-game series.

It marked the seventh time this season that the Yankees won the first two games of a series but could not complete the sweep. Overall in three-game series this year, the Yankees have won 14 and lost 16. They have been swept in three-game sets four times but have not yet done so themselves. Oddly, they have two four-game series sweeps and one two-game series sweep.

CC Sabathia put the Yankees in position to get over this hump until the seventh inning when a strange hit set up what proved a decision blow. With a runner on first and two out, Nolan Reimold hit a spinning bloop of a liner that bounced past Starlin Castro, who was also distracted by the runner, Jonathan Schoop, coming into the area.

Sabathia then sealed his own fate in the game with a walk to 9-hole hitter Hyun Soo Kim that loaded the bases. Manager Joe Girardi called on righthander Adam Warren to face righty-swinging Steve Pearce, who lined a 2-2 fastball through the middle for a two-run single that pushed Baltimore’s lead to 3-0. Pearce had broken the scoreless tie the inning before with his 12th home run.

Pearce, who was reacquired by the Orioles Aug. 1 in a trade from the Rays, helped douse a promising Yankees rally in the third inning by throwing out Gary Sanchez at third base for the first out, a cardinal sin. Sanchez, who had two more hits and is batting .405, led off the inning with a single. On a single to right by Mark Teixeira, Sanchez noticed no one was at third base and made a break for it. Third baseman Manny Machado, however, made a quick recovery, took Pearce’s strong, accurate throw and tagged out Sanchez. Didi Gregorius followed with a single, but the rally died when Castro grounded into a force on another nice play by Machado and Brian McCann struck out.

This turned out to be another fruitless game for the Yanks against Orioles righthander Kevin Gausman, who shut them out on seven hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings. Gausman is 1-1 with an ERA of 0.99 in 27 2/3 innings against the Yankees this year but is 5-9 with a 4.41 ERA against everyone else.

The Orioles padded their lead in the eighth when major league home run leader Mark Trumbo, who had struck out twice and grounded into a double play, belted a two-run shot (No. 40) to left off rookie Ben Heller.

Sabathia became the 39th pitcher in American League history to achieve the 3,000 plateau in career innings (3,002). . .It was career victory No. 1,411 for Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who moved past Al Lopez into 26th place on the all-time list. . .Ronald Torreyes had 2-for-3 with a double in extending his hitting streak to seven games during which he is batting .538 with six runs, six doubles, one home run and four RBI in 26 at-bats to boost his season average to .298. . .Sanchez was the AL Player of the Week for the period ending last Sunday and is a candidate again for the period ending this Sunday. The rookie catcher had a slash line of .522/.604/1.250 with seven runs, three doubles, five home runs and nine RBI this past week.

Sabathia, Ellsbury show kids how it’s done

With all the attention focused on minor league call-ups who have brought new energy to the Yankees, it was encouraging to see a couple of veterans come up big Tuesday night in the 5-1 victory over the Mariners.

CC. Sabathia bounced back from that weird 12-strikeout, seven-run outing last week against the Blue Jays to subdue an equally robust Seattle lineup. The lefthander gave up one run, which was slightly tainted at that, and three hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in seven innings, the fifth time this season he has gone that long.

Jacoby Ellsbury had another strong defensive game in center field and gave Sabathia a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning when he followed a leadoff double by Ronald Torreyes with his sixth home run of the season. Jake’s jack came one pitch after he fouled a ball off his right foot, so he did not have to run that hard around the bases. He did run hard tracking down long fly balls in the seventh and ninth innings.

The Mariners’ only run came in the third. Leonys Martin was credited with a triple on a drive into the right field corner that was somewhat misplayed by rookie Aaron Judge, who had just made an outstanding catch in the same area on a fly ball by Adam Lind. Martin came home on a single through a drawn-in infield by Ketel Marte, which at that point tied the score.

Ellsbury unlocked the tie two innings later, and the Yankee tacked on runs in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Judge and in the ninth on a double by Didi Gregorius. Torreyes, who had a four-hit game at the start of the West Coast swing last Friday night at Anaheim, got another start at third base and had three hits, including two doubles, and has lifted his season batting average to .278.

A-Rod has impact in final game with the Yankees

There was no home run, which would have made the night ideal, but his final game for the Yankees Friday night was all that Alex Rodriguez could have hoped for. He got a run-scoring double his first time up, hit the ball hard in two of his three other at-bats and even got to take the field one last time at third base.

All the while he listened to a capacity crowd of 46,469 at Yankee Stadium shower him with applause, chants of “A-Rod!” and “We want Alex!” throughout the muggy summer evening. Manager Joe Girardi, who has faced criticism for not playing Rodriguez more often this week, broke down in the interview room after the 6-3 victory over the Rays, which indicated that his decision to bench A-Rod was purely based on the 41-year-old’s declining ability and not for any other reason.

It was Girardi who approached Rodriguez after his final at-bat in the seventh inning and asked him if he wanted to wear his glove one more time. The answer was easy for A-Rod. As fans were bellowing “We want A-Rod!” their hero trotted onto the field at the start of the ninth inning. After the first out by Dellin Betances, who struck out the side to earn his fourth save, Girardi sent Ronald Torreyes out to third base, which allowed Rodriguez to receive yet another ovation from the crowd.

“I can’t say enough about the fans,” Rodriguez said. “With all that I have been through, for all those people to be here and show me love was overwhelming.”

It is true that for the most part Yankees fans have rallied around Rodriguez, who has tried very hard to win back their support after an ugly period in 2014 when he was suspended for the season for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs and went on a campaign to discredit the commissioner’s office, the Yankees, their doctors and even his union, the Major League Players Association.

Since his return in 2015, Rodriguez has apologized profusely for that behavior and has tried hard to make amends. But after a very strong first four months last year, A-Rod fell into a steady decline that continued into this season to the point that he lost at-bats as the designated hitter against right-handed pitching. An agreement with Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner led to Friday night, Rodriguez’s last in a Yankees uniform.

It was a night filled with joy and success. Starlin Castro drove in four runs with a two-run single and a two-run home run. Aaron Hicks, who has struggled himself to win over fans, also homered. CC Sabathia pitched six gutty innings for only his second victory in 10 starts since June 16.

Rodriguez was happy that he was able to contribute to a victory in his last game in pinstripes. Whether it is his last game in any big-league uniform seems to be a matter of conjecture.

“This will be pretty tough to top,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know what else a man can ask for.”

Before leaving the field, Rodriguez walked over to his old third base position, scooped up some dirt and placed it in his pocket. He later put the dirt in a pouch when he changed into civvies.

“It was something I saw Roger Clemens do, and I thought it was cool,” Rodriguez said. “Third base is where I lived in my time with the Yankees. I wanted to take some of that with me.”

Miller time no fun for Yankees anymore

Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller got into the same game again Saturday. Once that meant good news for the Yankees. Not anymore.

What that meant Saturday at Yankee Stadium was that the Yankees were behind in the ninth inning because Miller is now the closer for the Indians. The 6-foot-7 lefthander, one of the most popular players to come through the Yankees’ clubhouse over the years, faced his former teammates and earned his 10th save in a 5-2 Cleveland victory.

“It was strange to see him in a different uniform,” Yanks manager Joe Girardi said, “but we have seen that before with other players in other years.”

Miller, who was traded by the Yankees to the Indians last Sunday for four prospects, was successful in his return visit to the Stadium. The Yanks were able to keep him out of the first game of the series with a 13-7 victory Friday night, but perhaps the only way Miller would not have gotten into Saturday’s game was if the Tribe had pushed across more runs in the top of the ninth thereby removing the save situation.

Then again, with the Tigers breathing down the Indians’ necks in the American League Central, Tribe manager Terry Francona may have called on Miller anyway as important as this game was for Cleveland.

That the score stayed 5-2 in the top of the ninth was due to Betances, who came into the game to bail out Nick Goody, who allowed a run on a single by Jason Kipnis following a walk and a passed ball by Gary Sanchez. After giving up a single to Francisco Lindor, Betances struck out Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana.

Miller was warmly received by the remains of the Stadium crowd of 37,264, which was nice to see because he was a pivotal part of what success the Yankees had late in games this year and last. He gave up a leadoff single to Brett Gardner but came back to strike out Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira and retire Brian McCann on a ground ball to shortstop.

CC Sabathia (6-9) squandered a 2-0 lead the Yankees acquired in the second inning against Corey Kluber (11-8) on an RBI double by Sanchez and a wild pitch. Sabathia gave up solo home runs to Kipnis in the fourth and Napoli in the sixth, both on 3-1 pitches. In between, the Indians tied the score on a two-out, RBI single by Rajai Davis, who in his next at-bat in the seventh drove a 1-0 pitch from Anthony Swarzak for the Tribe’s third solo jack.

The loss dropped the Yankees’ record to .500 (55-55) for the 16th time this season.

On the positive side for the Yanks, one of the minor leaguers obtained in the Miller trade, had an impressive debut for Class A Tampa. Justus Sheffield struck out a career-high 11 batters of the 21 he faced and allowed just two hits in six innings Friday night in a 7-1 victory over Daytona (Reds). The lefthander, 20, threw 58 of 88 pitches for strikes and had only one walk. Shortstop Gleyber Torres, the top prospect acquired from the Cubs in the deal for Aroldis Chapman, hit his first homer in the Yankees organization to support Sheffield.

Subway Series keeps Yankees in focus

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had hoped that despite losing four prominent players in trades over the past week his team would be energized playing against the Mets at Citi Field. The usual buzz that comes with playing in the Subway Series was just what the skipper felt the Yankees needed as they moved through what for them were the unchartered waters of being sellers at Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

There might have been too much energy displayed in the case of leadoff hitter Brett Gardner. He opened the game with a drive off the wall in right-center that rolled back towards the infield. Rather than settle for a triple, Gardy tried for an inside-the-park home run but was thrown out at the plate.

It may have been over-aggression on Gardner’s part, but he can be forgiven for trying to give an early jolt to a club that no longer has Carlos Beltran in the lineup, Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller in the bullpen or Ivan Nova in the rotation. And except for Adam Warren, the players the Yankees got in return from those trades are all in the minor leagues.

The energy turned to the Mets’ side in the middle of the game, but the Yankees got some late mojo to tie the score in the eighth and win it in the 10th. That took CC Sabathia off the hook. The lefthander squandered a 3-1 lead and put the Yanks in a 5-3 hole in the sixth when he gave up a three-run home run to recent Triple A call-up Matt Reynolds, now playing shortstop for injured Asdrubal Cabrera.

Mets relievers took control in the middle innings, but the Yankees showed plenty of life in the eighth. Gardner walked leading off the inning but was still standing on first base after Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira struck out. Brian McCann singled Gardner to third off Addison Reed, who got into a duel with Didi Gregorius. Along the way, Reed made a huge mistake with a wild pitch that allowed pinch runner Ronald Torreyes to take second base.

Gregorius fouled off three two-strike pitches before lofting a single to left field on the eighth pitch of the at-bat that sent Gardner and Torreyes scampering home. If Miller were still around, he would have come in to face the Mets in the eighth. Warren handled that instead and retired the side in order. He worked a scoreless ninth as well as the game went into extras.

Triple A call-up Ben Gamel contributed to the game-winning rally with a sacrifice bunt. Mets reliever Seth Lugo took a chance at trying for Ellsbury at third base, a risk that failed as the Yanks loaded the bases with none out. Another chance to be a hero did not work out this time for Gregorius, who struck out, but Starlin Castro got the run home with a sacrifice fly.

Dellin Betances’ new role as closer proved challenging when James Loney led off the bottom of the 10th with a double to right-center. He was bunted to third. Betances got into more trouble when he hit Alejandro DeAza with a pitch. DeAza took second on a slow roller by Rene Rivera that turned into an out at first base. Betances truly earned his first save of the year by striking out Curtis Granderson.

Yanks’ recent surge may continue without Chapman

Calm down, Yankees fans, Monday’s trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for Adam Warren and three prospects is not the start of a fire sale.

No pun intended.

The debate about whether the Yankees will be buyers or sellers come the non-waiver trade deadline Aug. 1 can continue to rage while the club keeps trying to prove it will be a contender for post-season play.

Chapman won over Yankees fans with his triple-digit fastball readings, zooming as high as 105 miles per hour last week, but this was a deal general manager Brian Cashman had to make. He had a player who cost him relatively nothing (four lower-level prospects) and was highly sought after by contenders in need of a quality closer. The Yankees had an able successor to Chapman in Andrew Miller, who of course was also his predecessor and won the Mariano Rivera Award as the American League’s best reliever in 2015.

So Cashman had a huge chip in Chapman, who was 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 29 saves. The lefthander made it clear to the front office that he intended to enter free agency at the end of the 2016 season, so the Yankees had good reason to shop him. They had made incorrect calculations about second baseman Robinson Cano and reliever David Robertson in recent years and watched them bolt New York without getting anything in return.

No one can be sure how good a trade is until all the players involved make it to the majors, but Cashman appears to have acquired plenty of talent in the swap. Warren, of course, is known to Yankees fans as an able swing man who was a vital cog on the 2015 staff. I frankly admit that I did not like his being traded to the Cubs, although any deal that brings an everyday position player such as a Starlin Castro for a pitcher is a plus.

Warren did not pitch especially well for the Cubs and had been optioned to Triple A, but I believe his reunion with Yanks pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be beneficial.

The key ingredient in the deal from the Yankees’ standpoint is shortstop Gleyber Torres, the consensus top prospect in the Cubs organization. The Yankees currently have a solid shortstop in Didi Gregorius with Jorge Mateo highly touted in the organization, but players often shift off shortstop in the minors. By the time Torres is ready for the big time, a position will be found for him. The Yanks already have the example of Rob Refsnyder.

The Yankees had keen interest in the native Venezuelan three years ago but were outbid by the Cubs. Torres will remain on the Class A level for now as he was assigned to Tampa as was Rashad Crawford, one of two outfielders in the deal, along with Billy McKinney.

Crawford is similar to Gregorius in that as a left-handed batter he did better this year at Class A Myrtle Beach against left-handed pitching (.321 in 81 at-bats) than against right-handed pitching (.234 in 248 at-bats).

McKinney, who was assigned to Double A Trenton, is a former first-round draft pick of the Athletics who went to the Cubs two years ago in the multi-player trade for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Dan Straily. Also going from Oakland to Chicago in that deal was Addison Russell, now the Cubs’ regular shortstop who was voted on to the National League All-Star team this year by fans. Such progress is what the Yankees are hoping will come out of this trade, but there are no guarantees.

Remember something else. Chapman, who said he loved playing in New York, could always come back to the Yankees as a free agent. So in many ways this is a win-win deal for the Yanks.

They have done fine without Chapman the first two nights of a three-game series at Houston with Miller closing out both victories, 6-3 Tuesday night and 2-1 Monday night.

Dellin Betances had to do a dance act in the eighth when he came in and walked two batters to load the bases but ended the threat with a strikeout. Miller surrendered a one-out double but followed that up with two strikeouts to put the Astros away.

CC Sabathia pitched into the seventh and had a strong outing in ending a personal four-game losing streak with his first victory in seven starts since June 16. Sabathia was touched for solo home runs by Marwin Gonzalez in the first and Evan Gattis in the seventh but allowed only two other hits over 6 2/3 innings. All three Houston runs in this series have come on homers.

Yankees hitters have been kept in the yard both nights, but they banged out 13 hits Tuesday night, including three by slumping Jacoby Ellsbury and two apiece by Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Castro.

Monday night, the Yanks overcame tormentor Dallas Keuchel. There were some tense moments in the bottom of the ninth when Houston had runners on first and second with one out before Miller got Carlos Gomez on a game-ending double play.

Michael Pineda gave up a leadoff home run to George Springer on the righthander’s first pitch of the game but limited the Stros to four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts through the seventh.

Keuchel, who is not having the AL Cy Young Award season he had a year ago, had a one-hit shutout working with two out in the fifth when Gregorius doubled and Chase Headley tied the score with a flare single to center field, which made the Yankees’ third baseman the all-time hits leader among players from Colorado.

Headley singled to right leading off the eighth and scored the go-ahead run on a booming double to center by Austin Romine. Betances pitched a perfect, three-strikeout eighth before Miller earned his eighth save.

The victories pushed the Yankees’ record four games over .500 for the first time this year. They have won eight of their past 10 games and 10 of their past 14. Their record has improved every calendar month (8-14 in April, 16-15 in May, 15-12 in June, 13-9 in July). If this keeps up, the Yankees may seek help in trades rather than trying to help others.