Yanks’ best pitching combo avoids sweep by Bosox

If the Yankees are going to make a real run for a postseason berth, they are going to have to start doing better against clubs in their own division. Sunday night was a good start, a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox to avoid getting swept at home against their traditional rival.

It has been rough going for the Yankees in the American League East this year. Sunday night’s victory improved their record in the division to 11-19, including 2-6 against the Red Sox. Against the rest of the major leagues, the Yanks’ record is 34-27.

Coming off his briefest start of the year July 10 at Cleveland, Masahiro Tanaka again pitched well following a Yankees loss in out-dueling David Price and ending Boston’s six-game winning streak. Dustin Pedroia took Tanaka deep with one out in the first inning, but that would be all the Red Sox would score all night as they were stymied by Tanaka and No Runs DMC, the best possible pitching combination for the Yankees.

Tanaka went six innings, allowed only two other hits and one walk with seven strikeouts to improve his season record to 7-2 with a 3.15 ERA. It is even better when he starts on extra rest. The righthander was pitching on six days’ rest Sunday night. His record when he starts on five or more days’ rest is 6-0 with a 1.64 ERA.

That is fitting with Japanese baseball scheduling in which starting pitchers seldom work more than once a week. That cannot always be worked out in the major leagues, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi has tried whenever possible to get an extra day here or there for Tanaka, whose record after Yankees losses is 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA. He is unbeaten in his past six starts (4-0 with a 3.29 ERA in 38 1/3 innings).

The Yankees have given Price a hard time this year (1-2 with a 7.79 ERA in three starts totaling 17 1/3 innings). They finally got to him in the fourth inning when they scored all their runs on five of their 11 hits in the game.

Didi Gregorius kept up his torrid hitting against left-handed pitching with a one-out single to center to start the rally. He scored the tying run on a double to left by Starlin Castro. After Rob Refsnyder struck out, Austin Romine put the Yankees ahead with a single to center. Singles by Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury accounted for the third run. Ellsbury got a second hit off Price in the sixth to raise his career average against him to .357.

Gregorius added a double off Price in the fifth and is now batting .370 off lefties in 81 at-bats. Going into this season, Gregorius was a .214 hitter against lefthanders. He, Gardner and Ellsbury, the three left-handed hitters in the Yankees’ lineup, combined to go 6-for-11 against Price, who gave up the most hits to left-handed batters in a game in his career.

Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman worked their usual magic over the last three innings, each putting up a zero to extend the bulllpen’s scoreless streak to 19 innings. Chapman walked David Ortiz with one out in the ninth but got Hanley Ramirez to ground into a double play in picking up his 18th save.

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