Yanks with shot to get to .500 at All-Star break

So the Yankees will have a chance to get their record back to .500 before the All-Star break after all. A gripping, 7-6, 11-inning victory Saturday over the Indians brought the Yankees’ mark to 43-44, and they will have their best starter, Masahiro Tanaka, on the mound Sunday, the last game before the annual vacation.

The Yankees certainly did not take an easy route to Saturday’s victory. They gave up two leads, left 10 runners on base and had only two hits in 12 at-bats (.167) with runners in scoring position. Starter CC Sabathia had his fourth consecutive ineffective outing and two-thirds of No Runs DMC were pretty shaky before Aroldis Chapman, pitching into a third inning for the first time in his major league career, cleaned up matters in the ninth, 10th and 11th.

I thought it was interesting that Chapman, whose fastball did not reach triple digits until the 11th, told WFAN’s Suzyn Waldman that he actually was reserving his strength when he realized manager Joe Girardi needed additional length from him. Starting pitchers years ago who were expected to finish what they began held that attitude for decades.

Although their offense with runners in scoring position was weak, the Yanks did score six of their runs after two were out, including the game winner in the 11th. Brian McCann followed a two-out single by Carlos Beltran with a double to right field that scored pinch runner Ronald Torreyes from first base.

It marked the continuation of a strong trip for McCann, who in the seven games he has started behind the plate on the trek has hit .379 with two doubles, two home runs and four RBI in 29 at-bats. Fifteen games ago, McCann’s batting average was a feeble .207. Since then, he is batting .373 with 10 runs, three doubles, six homers and 11 RBI to boost his season average to .248. He had his second straight three-hit game Saturday.

Didi Gregorius had only one hit, but it was a big one, a two-run home run (No. 11) with two out in the third that gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately, Sabathia gave up three runs on four straight hits in the bottom of the inning. The Indians pushed their lead to 5-3 in the fifth on a two-out, RBI single by Jose Ramirez.

The Yankees put Sabathia back in position for a winning decision with a two-out rally in the sixth against Danny Salazar climaxed by a bases-clearing triple by Brett Gardner off reliever Dan Otero that made the score 6-5 Yankees.

Another two-out hit by Ramirez, off Dellin Betances in the seventh, tied the score. Gregorius saved Betances from letting in another run with a diving stop of a hard grounder by Jose Uribe and just as impressive a flip to second baseman Starlin Castro for the final out of the inning.

That run left Sabathia with a no-decision, but he did not deserve a victory. The lefthander gave up five earned runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings and over his past four starts is 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA in 23 innings in which he has allowed 30 hits. Once among the American League leaders with a 2.20 ERA four starts ago, CC has watched his ERA bloat to 3.77.

Andrew Miller ran into jams in the eighth and ninth when he put the leadoff hitter on base both innings. Abraham Almonte opened the eight with a double but got no farther than second base. In the ninth, Miller gave up a hit and a walk but caught a break when Francisco Lindor ran into third baseman Chase Headley and was called out. Miller got a big strikeout of Ramirez looking before he was replaced by Chapman, who ended the threat with a strikeout of Uribe.

Chapman also put the leadoff hitter on base in the 11th when he walked Jason Kipnis, but one out later he picked off Kipnis, who was caught stealing at second base on a strong throw from Austin Romine, who entered the game as a pinch runner for pinch hitter Alex Rodriguez in the sixth and played first base the rest of the game. Chapman finished off a very satisfying victory by striking out Mike Napoli.

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