No more fiddling with watches for Yanks

Welcome back to the Eastern time zone, Yankees. When they touch ground in New York Sunday night, the Yankees will be in Eastern Daylight Time for the remainder of the regular season.

The 10-game swing through Minnesota, Texas and Chicago, all in the Central time zone, ended the Yankees’ season outside EDT territory as the schedule the rest of the way become an ally.

To begin with, they will play 34 of their final 58 games at Yankee Stadium where they have a 30-17 record, a .638 winning percentage. And when they do travel, the Yankees will stay in their home time zone.They had two more visits to Toronto, which has moved into second place, as well as stops in Cleveland, Atlanta, Boston, St. Petersburg, Baltimore and Citi Field for the second Subway Series against the Mets.

This is all good news in an era when the schedule increasingly forces clubs to arrive in opposing cities at the crack of dawn. The Yankees are finished with the West Coast and now the Mountain and Central time zones as well.

They finished off the 6-4 trip in a big way with a runaway, 12-3 victory over the White Sox for the Yanks’ eight straight non-losing series. Dividing the four-game set at Arlington, Texas, has been the only series split for the Yankees during this stretch.

Concern over starting pitching due to the disabling of Michael Pineda and a couple of wayward outings by CC Sabathia was the one negative aspect of the trip, but it ended with an encouraging effort from Ivan Nova, who had experienced arm fatigue in his previous start, which is not uncommon for a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery.

Nova showed off tantalizing breaking balls to go with his fastball Sunday and held Chicago to one run, five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in six innings. The righthander could work free and easy, thanks to a Yankees offense that pounded White Sox ace Jeff Samardzja for nine runs and eight hits, including two home runs, in 4 2/3 innings.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a homer. The second long ball came from Mark Teixeira leading off the Yanks’ three-run fifth, the inning after they put up a five-spot against Samardzja.

It was another strong game from the bottom of the batting order as the 7-through-9 hitters — Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew, plus pinch hitter John Ryan Murphy — combined to go 7-for-14 (.500) with eight runs, two doubles, one triple and six RBI. At the top of the order, Ellsbury and Brett Gardner teamed up for five RBI.

Drew came within a home run of hitting for the cycle. His 3-for-5 game got his season batting average finally nudging .200 at .199. He started the trip batting .180 but added 19 points by going 10-for-29 (.345) with three runs, one double, one triple, one home run and six RBI.

It was a great trip offensively all around for the infielders. Teixeira increased his American League Most Valuable Player Award candidacy by batting .310 with nine runs, two doubles, five home runs and nine RBI in 42 at-bats.

Gregorius batted .438 with eight runs, a triple, a homer and 12 RBI in 32 at-bats in raising his season batting average from .241 to .260. The shortstop has 11 RBI in his past seven games.

Headley, who is on an 11-game hitting streak, was an astounding 16-for-37 (.593) on the trip with 11 runs, two doubles, one home run and eight RBI and watched his batting average hike 30 points to .276.

In nine games on the trip, Alex Rodriguez batted .333 with 10 runs, two doubles, four home runs, seven RBI and eight walks in 33 at-bats.

The Yankees averaged 7.8 runs per game in outscoring their opponents, 78-53. They gained only a half-game in the AL East standings — to a six-game spread over the Blue Jays — but took time off the race, 10 big days, and now no longer have to set the clock back, at least not until postseason play, their ultimate goal.

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