The Yankees will play a double header today in Baltimore after Friday’s game was rained out

Ivan Nova.

Ivan Nova.

After clinching a spot in the wild card game on Thursday against the Red Sox and having their game against the Orioles rained out on Friday, the Yankees will play a double header in Baltimore today. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-1 on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium and with the win they snapped their two-year postseason drought. The Yankees also won their 10,000th game in franchise history after previously losing three games in a row.

The Yankees were an underdog coming into the season since some predicted them to finish in last place, which makes this postseason appearance especially meaningful.

“This was really rewarding because I’ve had a chance to be on a lot of teams that have made the postseason fortunately and this one was probably as much of a grind as any one,” Joe Girardi said. “This one, there was probably as much uncertainty even on a daily basis. There were a lot, a lot of moving parts, so I think this was probably as rewarding as any club that I’ve been on that made the playoffs.”

Thursday’s postseason clinching win was made more significant because it was at home and it came over the Red Sox. The Yankees had lost four of their previous six home games and it was great for the players on the team that they were able to get this win in front of their home fans and be able to celebrate in their stadium.

The Yankees currently have a 2.5 game lead over the Houston Astros for the first wild card spot with three games to play, which means that it is almost a guarantee that the wild card game will be played at Yankee Stadium. Houston has a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the second wild card and the Minnesota Twins are a game behind the Angels. It will be a better matchup for the Yankees if they play the Angels in the wild card game because the Astros ace, Dallas Keuchel, has a 2.48 ERA this season and did not allow a run in his two starts against the Yankees.

Joe Girardi is prioritizing resting his regulars during today’s double header over putting his best players on the field in Game 1 to try to clinch home-field in the wild card game. However, if the Yankees do get a win against the Orioles, who are not playing for anything, they will clinch home-field in the wild card game.

Austin Romine will make his first career start at first base, Jose Pirela will play right field giving Carlos Beltran the game off, John Ryan Murphy will get his second consecutive start at catcher and Brendan Ryan will play shortstop instead of Didi Gregorius.

Murphy gave an epic interview during the Yankees post game celebration on Thursday. He has hit very well for a back-up catcher this season and in his last four games he is 4-13 (.308) with one run scored and one double. It can be hard for back-up catchers to hit for a high average because they usually get inconsistent at-bats.

Rookie Rob Refsnyder has also hit very well recently while getting increased playing time at second. In his six starts during the home-stand, Refsnyder had eight hits in 20 at-bats (.400) with one runs scored, one homer, one steal, two RBIs and two doubles. He will likely get the start in the wild card game, against Keuchel if they play the Astros, based on his performance in those six games.

Girardi announced that Ivan Nova will start today’s game at 12:05 p.m. and that Luis Severino will start the second game, but that could change if the Yankees secure home field advantage before the second game starts. Michael Pineda will get the start on Sunday.

Here is today’s lineup against the Baltimore Orioles, who have a 78-81 record:

Brett Gardner CF
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Chris Young LF
Chase Headley 3B
John Ryan Murphy C
Jose Pirela RF
Austin Romine 1B
Brendan Ryan SS

Lineup for the third game of the series against the Red Sox

Masahiro Tanaka.

Masahiro Tanaka.

Masahiro Tanaka will get the start for the Yankees (86-71) tonight in Game 3 of their four-game series against the Boston Red Sox (77-80). In three starts against the Red Sox this year, Tanaka has gone 3-0 and held Boston to a .234 average. However, Tanaka will look for better results tonight since he has allowed four, three and three runs in his starts this season against Boston.

Tanaka is currently lined up to start the wild card game for the Yankees. He is the logical choice because he has allowed three runs combined in his last three starts while not giving up more than two runs in any of them and besides Luis Severino is the most reliable pitcher in the rotation right now. He held the powerful Blue Jays lineup to zero runs in seven innings on September 13, which proves that he is capable of shutting down the Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros or Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees have a three-game lead with five games left to play for the right to have home field in the wild card game. The Angels are currently in sole possession of the second wild card spot and the Astros are half a game behind. The Twins are only half a game behind the Astros after their win today over the Cleveland Indians, and Minnesota would be the best matchup for the Yankees in the one-game playoff.

If the Angels stay in second that would be better for the Yankees because they have really struggled against Houston’s ace Dallas Keuchel this season. However, if they are going to keep the top spot and win the wild card game their offense will have to improve. The Yankees have gone 3-4 in their last seven games and have averaged only 2.57 runs per game. They have scored less than three runs in four of those games.

One player who has been hitting very well recently has been Jacoby Ellsbury. In Ellsbury’s last 13 games, he has a .347 average (17-49), a .429 slugging percentage, three steals, four doubles and eight runs scored. The Yankees need him to continue to hit well at the top of the lineup.

The Yankees can clinch a wild card spot if they win tonight and if they get help from the teams below them. The Yankees will also have won their 10,000th game in franchise history with a victory tonight over their rivals. Wade Miley, who has a high 4.39 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, will take the mound for the Red Sox and he allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk in his last start.

The lineup that the Joe Girardi is sending out tonight is the one that will likely be on the field for the wild card game if a lefty is pitching. Rob Refsnyder is getting another start at second against a lefty and he has a .417 average (5-12) in his four starts against lefties this month. Here is the lineup for tonight’s game against the Red Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Chris Young LF
Greg Bird 1B
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

The Yankees were 0-7 with runners in scoring position in their loss to the Red Sox

Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez.

The Yankees, who remained at 9,999 wins in franchise history after last night’s game against the Red Sox, lost a 5-1 game to the Boston Red Sox in the first game of their series at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are 3.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros for the first wild-card spot with six games left to play, and their playoff probability is currently 99.9 percent.

The Yankees trail the Toronto Blue Jays by five games, and the reason the Yankees will not win the division is that since the start of play on July 29th, the Blue Jays are 41-14 and have a run differential of an outstanding +129.

Offense is key for any team to win games and the Yankees offense struggled for the fifth time in their last six games. They have now scored three runs or less in five of their last six games and have scored two runs or less in four of those games. They are 3-3 in those six games.

“You’re going to have hot streaks and cold streaks. Right now we feel like we are battling. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to put good innings together,” Carlos Beltran said. “Today was a day where we faced a guy who was pitching well.”

The Yankees were 0-7 with runners in scoring position, which makes it hard to win a game. Their only run came off of an Alex Rodriguez sacrifice fly that scored Jacoby Ellsbury in the first inning. Greg Bird struck out with runners on first and second to end the first inning, Brett Gardner flied out to right with Rob Refsnyder on second to end the fourth inning and Gardner struck out on a 94 mph fastball with Refsnyder on second and John Ryan Murphy on third to end the game.

The one positive offensively was that Refsnyder was 1-4 and now has one or more hits in every game that he has started this month (four). He has recently been playing second against lefties and Dustin Ackley has been the second baseman against righties. Refsnyder has five hits in his last 13 at-bats (.385) with one double, which is a sign that he is showing his skills on offense.

“I think we need to do a better job against left handers,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s something we need to do a better job at. We struggled offensively this weekend against lefties. It’s is a kid that has swung well against left handers in the past (Refsnyder).”

Ivan Nova allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings pitched, but looked about as good as he has this season in the first five innings of the game. He did not allow a run before the sixth inning and only allowed three hits in that span. However, Nova was yet another Yankee pitcher whose effectiveness got worse in the sixth inning.

Nova had a good breaking ball but the homers off of him came on fastballs that didn’t sink. Travis Shaw blasted a homer to right that drove in Xander Bogaerts in the sixth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a homer just above the Canon sign in left field that bounced back into the field in the seventh inning.

After taking Nova out of the game after the seventh inning, Girardi used five relief pitchers to get the final six outs of the game. After recording the first two outs of the ninth, Caleb Cathem gave up a solo homer to Deven Marrero, which was Marrero’s first career round tripper. Fellow rookie Nick Rumbelow got Dustin Pedroia to ground out to Didi Gregorius at shortstop to end the top of the ninth.

Michael Pineda will get the start for the Yankees in Game 2 of the series on Tuesday night and will try to make sure the Yankees don’t lose any ground to the Astros. Pineda only allowed one run in six innings and struck out six in his previous start and in his last two starts combined he has pitched 11.1 innings, allowed only one run, recorded 10 strikeouts and only one walk.

Masahiro Tanaka is on track to pitch the wild card game, but either Tanaka or Luis Severino should pitch Game 1 of the American League Division Series if the Yankees win the one-game playoff.

Adam Warren, Chase Headley and A-Rod led the Yankees to a 2-1 win over the White Sox

Adam Warren.

Adam Warren.

The Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox in a nail-bitter, 2-1, as Alex Rodriguez’s RBI double in the sixth inning that scored Chase Headley ended up being the game-winning run for the home team.

Adam Warren only allowed one run on three hits and three walks in his six innings pitched while helping the Yankees get one win closer to clinching a playoff berth. He only needed 88 pitches to get through his six innings, got an inning ending double play in the first and retired the side in order in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings.

The only run that Warren allowed was a single to right field by Jose Abreu that scored Adam Eaton in the first inning. The White Sox were 0-2 in their other at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees are currently four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the AL East with eight games left in the season, which means that the Yankees are virtually assured of playing in the one-game wild card playoff. The Yankees are 4.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros for the first wild card spot, which means that there is basically a 99 percent chance that they will host the one-game playoff.

It is not known who they will play for the right to advance to the ALDS because the Astros only have a half a game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the second wild card spot. The Minnesota Twins still have a slim chance as they are 1.5 games behind the Astros. Minnesota would be the best matchup for the Yankees, but that is not very likely at this point.

The Yankees bullpen could not have been any better as Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller combined to pitch three innings and not allow any hits. They each pitched one inning and Wilson struck out two while recording his 28th hold, Betances got through the eighth while only having to throw eight pitches and lowering his ERA to an outstanding 1.36 and Miller struck out two to help him pick up his 36th save of the season in his first year as a closer.

“If I go out there and have a clean seventh, Dellin wants to do something better than I did, and the same for Andrew. We feed off each other, and it’s kind of like a brotherhood,” Wilson said. “With Dellin behind me and Andrew behind him, of course it breeds confidence.”

As a result of Wilson’s two strikeouts and Miller’s two strikeouts, the Yankees bullpen has now struck out an AL-record 573 batters, which is two more than the record that the Yankees relievers set last year.

The other run that the Yankees scored also came in the sixth inning when Chase Headley hit a ground rule double to left center to score Jacoby Ellsbury. Earlier in Headley’s at-bat, Ellsbury stole second to allow him to score on that ground rule double.

Luis Severino, who only allowed two runs and three hits in six innings in his previous outing, will get the start during today’s 1:05 p.m. game against the White Sox. He has a very good 3.10 ERA in his nine starts and has only allowed more than two earned runs twice.

Dustin Ackley will get the start at second base after rookie Rob Refsnyder had played the previous three games at second. In those three games, Refsnyder has four hits in eight at-bats with one double. He now has a .273 average in his 22 at-bats this season.

“€œWe’€™ve liked the way he’s swung the bat and defensively he’€™s done a good job, so I’ll continue to give him more opportunities,” Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees lost to the White Sox, 5-2, as Sabathia gave up two solo homers in the 7th

CC Sabathia throws to the Milwaukee Brewers on May 10, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

CC Sabathia throws to the Milwaukee Brewers on May 10, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

The Yankees lost to the Chicago White Sox, 5-2, on Friday night at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees hit into four ground ball double plays and were only 2-8 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees are now four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East with only nine games left to play.

Joe Girardi realizes how difficult it will be to catch the Blue Jays because of how well Toronto has been playing since the beginning of August.

“I said it was going to be really difficult and my mind hasn’t changed,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They’ve played extremely well since Aug. 1, and you look at what they’ve done, but we’re going to try to win every game and see what happens.”

CC Sabathia pitched very well in the first six innings, as he held the White Sox to two runs in six innings, but Joe Girardi left him in for the seventh and Sabathia would surrender solo homers to Mike Olt and Gordon Beckham to give the White Sox a lead that they would keep. Sabathia ended up allowed six hits and two walks in 6.2 innings pitched and allowed more than two earned runs in a start for the first times since August 18.

“I have to be better, especially late in the game,” Sabathia said.

Andrew Bailey pitched well in relief of Sabathia, but rookie Nick Rumbelow allowed a run on two hits in the ninth inning as Adam Eaton singled to score Tyler Flowers to make the score 5-2. Rumbelow allowed singles to Flowers and Beckham after he got the first two outs of the ninth, and the struggling Chasen Shreve was pitching when Eaton hit his single. Shreve, who allowed only 22 hits in the first four months of the season (40.2 innings), has given up 22 hits in the last two months (17 innings).

The Yankees were not able to capitalize on Carlos Rodon’s inconsistency as he allowed five hits and five walks in his six innings pitched. Six different Yankees recorded a hit for the Yankees but the only one who recorded a hit when it counted was Didi Gregorius, who hit a single to right in the fourth inning to score Brian McCann and Chris Young. Gregorius has five hits in his last 11 at-bats and his average is now a very respectable .267.

In Saturday’s third game of the series Rob Refsnyder will get his third consecutive start at second. He has two hits in five at-bats in the previous two games. Adam Warren will get the start for the Yankees as they try to take a 2-1 lead in the series. This will be his third start since returning to the rotation due to Nathan Eovaldi’s injury. This afternoon’s matinee game will begin at 4:05 EST.

Pitching matchups for the series against the White Sox

Michael Pineda.

Michael Pineda.

The Yankees, who lost two out of three games in their series at the Rogers Centre to the Blue Jays, will start a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. Losing the series to the Blue Jays gave the Yankees a 3.5-game deficit in the AL East with 11 games left, which means that their chance of winning the division is highly unlikely. (The Yankees would have to get help from Toronto and would have to win about eight of their games.)

The Yankees (83-68) currently have a 4-game lead for the first wild card spot, which means they are on track to hosting the Houston Astros, the Minnesota Twins or the Anaheim Angels in a one-game playoff for the right to play in the ALDS. Houston is currently the second wild card with an 80-73 record, the Minnesota Twins are one-game behind the Astros and the Anaheim Angels are 1.5 games behind the Astros.

The best matchup for the Yankees would be if they end up playing the Twins in the wild card game. The Twins No. 1 starter is not nearly as good as the No. 1 starters on the Angels or Astros, and the Yankees had a lot of success when playing against Minnesota. However, the Yankees need to win three or four games during this upcoming series against Chicago to keep their slim chance of winning the AL East alive.

In tonight’s game, hyped prospect Rob Refsnyder will get his first start since he went 0-3 against the Mariners on July 18. He was sent back down to Triple-A Scranton after that game and before tonight’s game has only had two at-bats this month. Refsnyder will try to live up to the offensive success he has had in the minor leagues the last few years, but he will be getting a challenging matchup tonight as he will be facing Chris Sale, who is one of the best pitchers in the American League.

Back-up catcher John Ryan Murphy will get the start for Brian McCann, Chris Young will get the start in left field because Sale is a lefty and Young has performed very well against lefties this season, Brendan Ryan will get the start at shortstop for Didi Gregorius and Dustin Ackley will get the start at first. Greg Bird, who is on an 8-game hitting streak, has started at first in the last nine games. Gregorius has started every game at shortstop since July 25, when Ryan got the start at short.

Michael Pineda, who will start tonight’s game, allowed zero runs and struck out four in 5.1 innings in his last start against the Mets. That was his third time this season that he hasn’t allowed a run and his first since July 4 against the Rays. He bounced back well since he had given up four runs in each of his last two starts before that start against the Mets.

Pineda is a very effective pitcher when he throws his slider where he wants it to go and the Yankees need him to locate that pitch tonight. Here are the pitching matchups for the series against the White Sox:

RHP Michael Pineda (11-8, 4.10)
LHP Chris Sale (12-10, 3.47)
7:05 p.m. YES Network and MLB Network

LHP CC Sabathia (5-9, 4.80)
LHP Carlos Rodon (8-6, 3.78)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

RHP Adam Warren (6-7, 3.46)
LHP John Danks (7-13, 4.59)
4:05 p.m., WPIX

RHP Luis Severino (4-3, 3.10)
RHP Jeff Samardzija (10-13, 5.04)
1:05 p.m., YES Network

Beltran and McCann both homered and Pineda won his 11th game of the season

Michael Pineda.

Michael Pineda.

The Yankees beat the New York Mets, 5-0, on Saturday afternoon and their deficit in the American League East is now 3.5 games since the Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees had a 5-0 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning, but Joe Girardi still ended up using six relief pitchers. It worked out in the end because the Mets did not score a run, but Girardi could have brought in one fewer pitcher out of the bullpen.

Michael Pineda pitched 5.1 innings on Saturday against the Mets, allowing four hits, one walk and striking out four. He is a very effective pitcher when he throws his slider where he wants it to go and he did exactly that against the Mets. Big Mike was taken out of the game after throwing only 86 pitches and allowing two singles and then striking out Yoenis Cespedes in the sixth.

Joe Girardi said that he was taken out of the game because of how he had previously pitched against Daniel Murphy, who was the next batter. Girardi’s strategy ended up working in the sixth inning as Justin Wilson walked Murphy to load the bases and then struck out David Wright and Juan Uribe swinging to end the frame.

Noah Syndergaard, who is one of the best young pitchers in the National League and came into the game with a 3.20 ERA in 21 starts, was not effective in the first inning. His least effective innings this season have been in the first and sixth innings, and Synergaard allowed multiple runs in both of those innings.

Carlos Beltran hit a homer to right field to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner in the first inning. That was Beltran’s 16th blast of the season, which is tied for fifth most on the team. He also has the best average on the team (.279) and nobody would have expected that at this point of the season after he had a .162 average at the end of April.

“The first month I wasn’t really basically using my lower body,” Beltran said. “Looking at a lot of videos, looking at a lot of clips from previous years, I was able to make the adjustment.”

Another positive about the first inning is that Ellsbury and Gardner both singled and it will be important that they continue to get on base at the top of the lineup in the remaining 15 games for the middle of the order to have RBI opportunities.

Brian McCann hit a 433-foot homer to right center in the sixth inning to score Beltran to give the Yankees two insurance runs. That was McCann’s 26th homer of the season and his team leading 89th RBI. McCann, who is a seven-time All-Star, is on his way to finishing with 30 homers and 95 RBIs for the first time in his career.

Wilson struck out four in his 1.1 innings of relief but after that Girardi truly mixed and matched his relievers for the rest of the game. Wilson came out of the game with two outs in the sixth inning and from the point on Caleb Cotham, Dellin Betances, James Pazos, Chris Martin and Andrew Miller all pitched for the Yankees.

Betances pitched a perfect eighth inning striking out two batters and then Girardi went to the rookie Pazos. He had only allowed one hit in six appearances (3.0 innings) coming into this game, and he got the only batter he faced (Murphy) to ground out to Didi Gregorius. Girardi could have opted to leave in Pazos, but luckily Miller only had to throw three pitches to get the final out of the game, which means that he will be able to pitch again on Sunday.

Girardi doesn’t like to throw Betances or Miller three days in a row, but that rule could be thrown out of the window now and Sunday would only be his second day in a row pitching anyway.

“I think his rules usually [don’t] include September,” Miller said. “That’s how I understood them. I know they’re not hard and fast. I don’t know how many games we have left but I’m going to try to pitch in every one of them.”

The Yankees will look to win the series and keep their chances of catching the Blue Jays in the AL East alive with a win over the Mets on Sunday Night Baseball. Matt Harvey will be limited in this game due to coming back from Tommy John surgery and it was reported that he will throw about 70 pitches in tonight’s start.

CC Sabathia will get the start tonight for the Yankees and he has pitched better since getting a new brace on his knee. Sabathia, who has a 4.93 ERA this season, allowed zero runs in a start for the first time this season in his previous start.

“CC threw the ball as well as he’s thrown it all year,” Alex Rodriguez said. “Four pitches for strikes, and it’s not just about speed, it’s throwing the ball with conviction. Tremendous performance by CC. Very encouraging.”

Pitching matchups for the Subway Series at Citi Field

Masahiro Tanaka.

Masahiro Tanaka.

After winning two out of three games against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees will now play their most important six games since the 2012 season, which is the last time that they made the playoffs. The Yankees are currently 3.5 games behind the first place Toronto Blue Jays, which makes this upcoming stretch of games against the Mets and Blue Jays so important. They have a four-game lead on the first wild card spot, but they want to win the division so that they are secured a postseason series.

This series that begins tonight at Citi Field is important for the Yankees because the Mets can only look to play spoiler at this point. They have basically locked up the NL East since they have a 83-63 record with an 8-game lead over the Washington Nationals in the division. Masahiro Tanaka will get the start for the Yankees tonight and in his last start the 26-year-old did not allow a run and struck out seven in seven innings pitched against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In his start last season against the Mets he pitched a complete game shutout with eight strikeouts. The Mets have a much better offense right now with the additions of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Juan Uribe, but if Tanaka pitches like he did in his last start he is hard to hit.

Steven Matz, who is a Long Island native, will get the start tonight for the Mets and he will be feeling the pressure of pitching in his first Subway Series game. He has had a lot of success as he has allowed two runs or less in all four of his starts, which has led to a 1.88 ERA, but he has never pitched against the Yankees.

Adding to the intrigue of this game is that Tanaka will hit in a game for the third time this season. Here are the pitching matchups for this important first game of the Subway Series.

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.40)
LHP Steven Matz (3-0, 1.88)
7:10 p.m., YES Network

RHP Michael Pineda (10-8, 4.25)
RHP Noah Syndergaard (8-6, 3.20)
1:05 p.m., FOX

LHP CC Sabathia (4-9, 4.93)
RHP Matt Harvey (12-7, 2.88)
8:08 p.m., ESPN

Greg Bird’s two RBIs helped the Yankees get a 3-1 win over the Rays

Luis Severino.

Luis Severino.

The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, 3-1, in the final game of their series at Tropicana Field. It was a big win for the Yankees because they were able to stay three games behind Toronto in the AL East since the Blue Jays routed the last place Atlanta Braves 9-1. After last night’s win, the Yankees are now only seven wins away from 10,000 in franchise history.

Luis Severino only allowed one run in 5.2 innings pitched while striking out seven in what was his most important start as a Yankee. The Yankees still have a chance in the AL East partly because they have won four of the last five games that he has started. The team could not have asked for anything more from their highly regarded rookie as he has a 3.12 ERA and 45 strikeouts in his eight starts and has allowed two runs or less in six of those starts.

“It’s great to help the team win,” Severino said after the game.

He has only allowed more than two runs twice, and both of those starts came against the Blue Jays. He allowed three runs in six innings in his first start against Toronto, which means that nine of the 15 runs that he has allowed have come against Toronto. That is not surprising because the Blue Jays have scored 102 runs more than the the Yankees, who have scored the second most runs in baseball.

In his previous start, on September 11 against the Blue Jays, Severino gave up six runs on six hits and three walks in only 2.1 innings, which means that he was able to rebound very well after that sub-par performance. Severino had not allowed a run until the sixth inning when Steven Souza Jr. doubled to center with one out to score James Loney. He struck out Nick Franklin swinging with two outs and then Justin Wilson came on in relief as Severino had thrown 94 pitches.

“He bounced back extremely well, which is good to see,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. Some rookies will struggle after performing like Severino did against Toronto, but he was impressively able to pitch like he previously had.

Chase Headley had what ended up being the game-winning RBI in the top of the sixth inning with his single to shallow left that sent Brian McCann home to make the score 2-0. That was Headley’s only hit of the game and that hit snapped his 10 at-bat hitless streak.

Greg Bird, who was 2-4, drove in the first and third runs that the Yankees scored. He was once again a critical part in a Yankees win. In the second inning, to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead, Bird hit a double to right center to score Carlos Beltran. In the ninth inning, to give the team an insurance run, Bird hit his seventh homer in his 29 game played of the season. Seven homers and 21 RBIs are very productive power numbers for a rookie who has not even played in 30 games.

The bullpen pitched 3.1 combined innings and only allowed one hit. Wilson only need 12 pitches to strike out two in his inning, Dellin Betances threw 1.1 innings and had to get out of trouble as he walked the bases loaded in the seventh and Souza Jr. hit a single off of him in the eighth, but he was able to get a key double play and strike out. Andrew Miller (1.80 ERA) struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to record his impressive 34th save of the season in his first year as a closer.

Chris Archer, who pitched well against the Yankees once again, allowed the first two runs that the Yankees scored. He pitched six innings and allowed four hits and four walks. He broke the Rays’ single season strikeout record with his third inning strikeout of Brett Gardner. That was his 240th strikeouts, which broke Scott Kazmir’s record.

The other positive offensively was that Jacoby Ellsbury, who had not had a hit in his previous 22 at-bats, went 2-5 in what was his first multi-hit game since September 6. The Yankees need this to be a sign of him hitting with more consistency.

The Yankees have their last off day of the season today before playing 17 games in 17 days to end the season. The Yankees play three games against the Mets at Citi Field starting on Friday and after that series will play an important three-game series at the Rogers Centre against the Blue Jays. Those six games will go a long way towards deciding if the Yankees win the division or get one of two wild card spots.

Slade Heathcott’s homer led to the Yankees winning their biggest game of the year

Slade Heathcott.

Slade Heathcott.

The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-1, on Monday night at Tropicana Field, as Slade Heathcott had the biggest hit of his rookie season. With the win, the Yankees gained a half a game in the AL East to move three games behind the first place Toronto Blue Jays.

Tampa was winning 1-0 going into the top of the ninth after Logan Forsythe hit a double off of Justin Wilson to score Mikie Mahtook, and it appeared that the Yankees were on their way to a deflating loss, but Heathcott hit a 3-run homer to drive in Brian McCann and Chris Young that landed just over the wall in left field. John Ryan Murphy gave Heathcott a quick scouting report on Rays closer Brad Boxberger and it ended up helping because Heathcott’s blast gave the Yankees a big come from behind win.

Heathcott pinch-hit in the ninth and it was his first at-bat in the majors since May 27, when he went on the disabled list. He was called up from Triple-A on Saturday. Heathcott now has a .389 average with two homers, six RBIs and four runs scored in 18 at-bats. Alex Rodrguez was impressed with how Heathcott was able to step up in such an important at-bat.

“Just tremendous,” Rodriguez said. “You get caught up and I become a fan when you’re watching a young kid with so much talent. Big, signature Yankee moment.”

CC Sabathia, who had what was his biggest start of the season, thought the same about Heathcott’s hit. “You just look at our dugout, the way they reacted, it’s the biggest hit of the season,” CC Sabathia said of Heathcott’s blast. The Yankees are now 3-54 when trailing after eight innings.

Brett Gardner stole second after drawing a two out walk in the ninth. Alex Rodriguez was able to keep the game alive and get the Yankees on the scoreboard with a double to deep right that scored Gardner. That was Rodriguez’s 82nd RBI of the season, which is tied for 12th in the American League.

Sabathia allowed zero earned runs in a start for the first time this season. He pitched 6.2 innings, only allowed three hits and recorded six strikeouts. Sabathia gave the Yankees much more length on Monday as he allowed one run in 4.2 innings in his previous start.

“I thought his sinker was tremendous,” Joe Giradi said. “It just had a lot of movement. It seems like the knee brace has helped and he has kind of picked up where he left off.”

Andrew Miller pitched a perfect ninth inning and struck out three batters for his 33rd save in his first season as a closer. His ERA is now an outstanding 1.83. The Yankees had three errors during the game, but as a result of their ninth inning rally with two outs it didn’t cost them the win. The victory made their chance of catching the Blue Jays more realistic.

Adam Warren will make the start in Game 2 of the series since Nathan Eovaldi has elbow inflammation. It will be Warren’s first start since June 25.

Alysha Tsuji

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Muskat Ramblings's Carrie Muskat has been covering Major League Baseball since 1981 and is the author of "Banks to Sandberg to Grace: Five Decades of Love and Frustration with the Cubs." You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Here, she blogs about the Cubs.


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