Results tagged ‘ Andrew Miller ’

It is getting awfully tight in the AL East

After playing .500 ball (3-3) on their trip to Kansas City and Baltimore, the Yankees got off to a strong start on the next to last homestand of the season. A 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays kept the Yankees 3 1/2 games behind the Orioles for the second wild card playoff berth and also moved them to 5 1/2 games of first place in the American League East.

That is still a lot of ground to make up with 26 games remaining in the regular season, but all but three of them are against teams in their own division, including six against the Blue Jays, whose hold on first place is teetering. The Red Sox, who had a late afternoon game at San Diego, were in position to tie Toronto for the division lead, and the Orioles are only two games back. It is getting tight in the division in the final month.

After doing the near impossible by failing to get a single extra-base hit in three games over the weekend at hitter-friendly Camden Yards, the Yankees broke out of that spell Monday at Yankee Stadium.

Jacoby Ellsbury ended the 27-inning, 89-at-bat extra-base hitless streak with a two-run home run in the first inning off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey that erased a 1-0 Yankees deficit. That was the first of three hits in the game for Ellsbury, who did not start in Sunday’s series finale at Baltimore.

Rookie first baseman Tyler Austin doubled leading off the third and scored on a one-out single by Ellsbury. Austin got another double with two out in the fourth, and that one sent home two runners and essentially ended the day for Dickey, who got the final out that inning but did not return for the fifth.

The return of extra-base power provided sufficient support for Masahiro Tanaka, who improved his record to 12-4. Although he told reporters after the game that he did not have his best stuff, Tanaka allowed only two runs over 6 1/3 innings. He did give up seven hits and three walks, but the Blue Jays were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position against him and 2-for-9 for the game.

Toronto also ran into some outs. Catcher Gary Sanchez threw out Melvin Upton Jr. trying to steal second base in the fourth. Jose Bautista inexplicably tried to go from first to third on a single to left by Edwin Encarnacion the next inning and was easy prey for Brett Gardner for the third out.

The Yankees sweated through the seventh inning when the Jays loaded the bases on three walks, one by Tanaka and two by rookie Jonathan Holder. Encarnacion’s third hit of the game was a single to right off another rookie, Ben Heller, that scored two runs. Tommy Layne, the Yanks’ fourth pitcher of the inning, prevented further damage by retiring pinch hitter Russell Martin on an infield fly.

Tyler Clippard retired the side in order in the eighth, and Dellin Betances did the same in the ninth for his ninth save in 10 tries since becoming the closer July 31. Betances has allowed only two earned runs in 30 1/3 innings (0.59 ERA) at the Stadium this year.

In 21 appearances since the All-Star break, Betances has given up two earned runs in 22 innings (0.82 ERA) with eight hits allowed, 10 walks and 34 strikeouts. He leads major-league relievers in K’s with 114. Betances led all relievers in strikeouts the previous two seasons with 131 last year and 135 in 2014. This is the first season in Yankees history in which three pitchers had at least nine saves apiece. Andrew Miller, now with the Indians, also had nine, and Aroldis Chapman, now with the Cubs, had 20.

Three walks were unusual for Tanaka, considering that he walked only one batter total in six August starts covering 39 innings. The Japanese righthander is 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA over his past six starts and has won five consecutive decisions for the first time since May 25 through June 17, 2014. Tanaka, who has a career record of 6-3 with a 2.34 ERA against the Blue Jays, is 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA in nine starts totaling 59 innings against AL East clubs this year.

The Yankees have scored exactly five runs in five of their past seven games and nine of 15 since Aug. 20.

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.

Star Wars Night highlights current homestand

Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the 2016 Subway Series began a five-game homestand during which the Yankees will have their first Yankee Stadium Star Wars Night Friday when the Indians with former Yankees relief pitcher Andrew Miller follow the Mets into the Bronx.

As part of the festivities, an assortment of Star Wars characters will be present at various locations throughout the Stadium to interact with fans from approximately 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and again for about 45 minutes after the first pitch. In addition, the first 18,000 people in attendance will receive a R2-D2 Yankees Knit Cap.

Didi Gregorius Bobblehead Day will take place Sunday. The first 18,000 people in attendance will receive a bobblehead. The Gregorius bobblehead is part of the limited-edition collectible player bobbleheads, presented by AT&T. The set of four — Mickey Mantle Triple Crown June 24, Gregorius Aug. 7, Dellin Betances Sept. 10 and Roger Maris Oct. 1 — is the fourth series in a collection of Yankees bobbleheads.

The Hard Rock Cafe presents Little Steven’s Underground Garage Concert Series, powered by JBL, will continue in the Pepsi Food Court on the third-base side of the Field Level Friday with The Grip Weeds. The performance is scheduled to take place from 5:30-6:15 p.m. Admission to the pregame concert is included with a valid game ticket for that date. Future acts are scheduled to perform throughout the summer. More information on the series can be found at http://www.yankees.com/bands.

Ticket specials will run Saturday and Sunday (both Youth Games). For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

For information on parking and public transportation options to Yankee Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

Yankees obtain 3 more prospects for Beltran

On the day of the first Subway Series game in 2016, the best position player of those who spent time with both the Yankees and the Mets was on his way out of New York again. Carlos Beltran, the Yankees’ most productive hitter this season, followed the path of relief pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller and was traded for three prospects.

Beltran was a major trade chip for the Yankees, particularly to American League clubs that could use him at designated hitter as well as in the outfield. The Rangers have been in need of added punch at the plate since Prince Fielder was lost for the remainder of the season due to a neck injury that required surgery.

Beltran will certainly provide that for Texas. At the age of 39 and despite nagging leg issues, Beltran hit .304 in 359 at-bats for the Yankees and led the team in hits (109), home runs (22) and runs batted in (64) and was tied for the club lead in doubles (21). He was an All-Star for the ninth time in his career and the first time as an American Leaguer.

Earlier this season, he reached 20 homers for the 12th time in his career (1999, 2001-04, ’06-08, ’11-13 and ’16), tied with former teammate Mark Teixeira for the fourth-most 20-homer seasons all time among switch-hitters. Eddie Murray had 16 such seasons, and Mickey Mantle and Chipper Jones 14 apiece. Beltran also became the second switch-hitter in major league history with a 20-homer season at age 39-or-older, joining Murray (21 homers at 39 in 1995 and 22HR at 40 in ’96).

Beltran was a five-time National League All-Star during his seven-plus seasons with the Mets. Only Darryl Strawberry rivals him as a major position player on both New York teams. The best pitcher who was on both clubs was David Cone, with Dwight Gooden a close second.

Of the four players the Yankees received in return for Beltran, the most promising is pitcher Dillon Tate, a righthander who was the Rangers’ selection in the first round (and the fourth overall pick) in the 2015 First Year Player Draft. The Yankees also got two other right-handed pitchers, Erik Swanson and Nick Green.

Tate, 22, was 3-3 with a 5.12 ERA (65.0IP, 37ER) in 17 games (16 starts) and 65 innings with Class A Hickory this year. He made his professional debut in 2015, posting a 1.00 ERA over six starts and nine innings with Hickory and short-season Class A Spokane. Entering the 2015 draft, Tate was tabbed by Baseball America as the top pitcher and third-best prospect overall. Following the 2015 season, the Claremont, Calif., native was ranked by the publication as baseball’s 69th-best prospect.

During his collegiate career at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Tate was named a 2015 Louisville Slugger All-America and UCSB’s first-ever Golden Spikes Award semifinalist after going 8-5 with a 2.26 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 14 starts and 103 1/3 innings as a junior. In 2014, he earned a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, recording three saves while posting a 0.79 ERA in 11 appearances. The highest selection ever out of UCSB, Tate is a product of Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., where he played in tournaments across the United States and Japan as a teenager.

Swanson, 22, was 6-4 with one save and a 3.43 ERA (81.1IP, 31ER) in 19 games (15 starts) and 81 1/3 innings with Hickory in 2016 and was a South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star. The Terrace Park, Ohio, native was originally selected by the Rangers in the eighth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Over three minor league seasons, he has combined to go 8-6 with two saves and a 3.52 ERA in 44 games (15 starts) and 120 innings.

Green, 21, was 2-2 with a 4.98 ERA in seven starts totaling 34 1/3 innings with Spokane in 2016. Originally selected by Texas in the seventh round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, Green has posted a 6-8 record and 5.15 ERA in 31 career appearances (21 starts) and 108 1/3 innings over three minor league seasons. The Fountain, Colo., native was previously drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft but did not sign.

In another transaction designed towards the future, the Yanks traded pitcher Ivan Nova to the Pirates for two players to be named. The Yankees added relief pitcher Tyler Clippard, who they acquired from the Diamondbacks Sunday, to the 25-man roster and recalled pitcher Nick Goody and outfielder Ben Gamel from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not say who would replace Nova in the rotation. The candidates are Luis Severino and Chad Green. The manager was also unclear how he would replace Beltran.

“We lost the most important hitter in our lineup,” Girardi said. “This is a chance for young players to step up. I believe we can still win with the players in that room.”

Yanks, back at .500, deal Miller to Tribe

No Runs DMC is down to D.

Dellin Betances has become the Yankees’ closer this week with the trade of Andrew Miller to the Indians Sunday following a deal earlier last week of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs. Emblematic of the kind of weekend it was for the Yankees in St. Petersburg, Fla., Betances never got into a game.

There was no chance for a closer because the Yankees did not have a lead heading into the ninth inning. Heck, the Yankees had a lead for only one half-inning in the series as they were swept by the last-place Rays. The Yanks were flying high after the first two games of the trip in Houston when they reached a season-best four games over .500, but four straight losses pushed them back to par at 52-52.

Whether the Yankees would be buyers or sellers at the non-waiver trade deadline, which is 4 p.m. Monday, was answered Sunday with the trade of Miller. The Chapman trade was a bit different because it involved a player who can be a free agent at the end of the season and who dismissed any talk of a contract extension. Miller, on the other hand, was signed through the 2018 season and had returned to the closer role he handled so well last year before moving aside for Chapman 11 weeks ago.

Just as was the case with Chapman, the haul general manager Brian Cashman received were four prospects, including one who is among the most highly touted young players on the rise, Clint Frazier, an outfielder rated 21st in Baseball America’s midseason rankings of top prospects.

The Yankees also received three pitchers, lefthander Justus Sheffield and righthanders Ben Heller and J. P. Feyereisen. While they are not necessarily running up a white flag on 2016, the Yankees are clearly looking much farther ahead than the current season.

It was nevertheless a sad day. Miller joined the Yankees as a free agent signing Dec. 5, 2014 enthusiastically and enjoyed his time in New York. The 6-foot-7 lefthander was a popular figure in their clubhouse.

“I loved my time here,” he told reporters Sunday. “It’s a first-class organization where I signed up to play. For me now, I get a chance to go to a team that is in the thick of it and has big plans for this year.”

Unlike the Chapman trade which included the return of pitcher Adam Warren to the Yankees, the players in the Miller trade do not present immediate help to the major-league roster.

Frazier, 21, was drafted in the first round by the Indians and was the fifth overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft from Loganville, Ga., High School after being named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year.

In 94 combined minor league games in 2016 at Double-A Akron (89) and Triple-A Columbus (5), Frazier batted .273 (99-for-362) with 58 runs, 25 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 13 stolen bases, a .350 on-base percentage and an .811 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages). He was named to the Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star Game and appeared in the 2016 Futures Game in San Diego where he had a single and a double and scored a run in three at-bats. He was promoted to Triple A July 25.

Right-handed all the way, Frazier played for Class A Lynchburg in 2015 and was named a Carolina League Postseason All-Star for hitting .285 with 88 runs, 36 doubles, three triples, 16 homers, 72 RBI, 68 walks, 15 steals, a .377 on-base percentage and an .842 OPS in 501 at-bats. He led the CL in hits, doubles and total bases (233), while ranking second in runs and third in RBI. He was also named both the Carolina League Player of the Month and Indians Minor League Player of the Month in July.

Over his four minor league seasons, Frazier is a .278 hitter with 248 runs, 90 doubles, 16 triples, 47 home runs, 198 RBI, 43 stolen bases my a .360 on-base percentage and an .812 OPS in 391 games and 1,509 at-bats.

Sheffield, 20, was 7-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 19 starts totaling 95 1/3 innings for Class A Lynchburg and was named to this year’s Carolina League Mid-Season All-Star Team. In midseason rankings, he was tabbed by Baseball America as the 69th-best prospect in baseball and the fifth-best prospect in the Indians organization. Prior to the season, Baseball America rated him with the “Best Slider” in the organization.

Born and raised in Tullahoma, Tenn., Sheffield was originally selected by Cleveland in the first round (31st overall) of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Like Frazier, he was also named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. Last year with Class A Lake County, Sheffield was 9-4 with a 3.31 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 26 starts covering 127 2/3 innings. His strikeouts ranked second in the Midwest League and he was named to the ML Mid-Season All-Star team. Over three minor league seasons, Sheffield has a 19-10 record with a 3.55 ERA and 260 strikeouts in 49 starts and 243 2/3 innings.

Heller, 24, was 3-2 with 12 saves in 13 chances and a 1.73 ERA in 43 relief appearances this season combined at Triple-A Columbus (28 games) and Double-A Akron (15). He held batters to a combined .159 batting average with a 0.84 WHIP. Heller began the season ranked by Baseball America as having the “Best Fastball” in the Indians organization.

The Wisconsin native was drafted by Cleveland in the 22nd round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.). In 150 games (including one start) over four minor league seasons, Heller has a 9-8 record with 31 saves and a 2.77 ERA in 172 1/3 innings. He has held opponents to a .193 batting average and struck out 226.

Feyereisen, 23, was 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA, five saves and 56 strikeouts in 33 relief appearances and 40 1/3 innings for Double-A Akron this season and was named to the 2016 Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star team. Another Wisconsin native, Feyereisen was was originally drafted in the 16th round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. At the time, he was the top Division III prospect as rated by Baseball America. Over three minor league seasons, Feyereisen has an 8-4 record with 21 saves in 23 chances and a 1.80 ERA in 105 innings. He has totaled 136 strikeouts and held opponents to a .184 batting average.

The Indians will be Miller’s sixth club in his 11 major league seasons but on none was he more effective than with the Yankees. Originally drafted by the Tigers as a starter, he went to the Marlins in the Miguel Cabrera trade and then on to the Red Sox who converted him to a reliever and the Orioles before signing a four-year, $36-million deal with the Yankees.

Miller, 31, was 6-1 with nine saves and a 1.39 ERA in 44 outings and 45 1/3 innings with the Yankees this year and was named to the American League All-Star team. Among major league relievers this season, Miller is second in strikeouts (77), strikeouts per batter faced (.448K/1BF) and fourth in K/9.0IP ratio (15.29). In 2015, he won the Mariano Rivera Award as the AL’s top reliever after going 3-2 with 36 saves (in 38 chances) and a 2.04 ERA in 60 relief appearances totaling 61 2/3 innings. He posted an AL-best 14.59 K/9.0IP ratio, the second-best mark among MLB relievers, and ranked third among relievers in strikeouts.

He will be sorely missed.

The Yankees completed one other trade Sunday in re-acquiring relief pitcher Tyler Clippard from the Diamondbacks for pitcher Vicente Campos. Clippard, 31, was 2-3 with one save and a 4.30 ERA (37.2IP, 34H, 18ER, 15BB, 46K) in 40 relief appearances and 37 2/3 innings with Arizona this year. In 2015, he pitched for the Athletics and the Mets and combined for a 5-4 record with 19 saves and a 2.92 ERA in 69 games and 71 innings.

Originally selected by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Clippard was 3-1 with a 6.33 ERA in six starts as a rookie with the Yankees in 2007. Following the season, he was traded to the Nationals for pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo. A two-time National League All-Star (he was the winning pitcher of the 2011 game at Chase Field in Phoenix), Clippard has a 44-32 career record with 54 saves and a 2.97 ERA in 529 games, all but eight in relief. He is the only pitcher to appear in at least 69 major league games in each of the past six seasons.

Campos, 24, combined for a 9-3 record with a 3.20 ERA (121.0IP, 103H, 43ER, 38BB, 105K, 4HR) in 20 starts and 121 innings at Class A Tampa (10 starts, Double-A Trenton (9) and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (1) in 2016. He came to the Yankees with Michael Pineda in the Jan. 23, 2012 trade from the Mariners for catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi. In 104 career minor league games (including 87 starts), Campos is 33-23 with a 3.67 ERA.

Pineda’s record fell to 5-10 Sunday as he gave up five earned runs, six hits and an uncharacteristic four walks (one intentional) with eight strikeouts in six innings. After Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer off lefthander Blake Snell (nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings) got the Yankees to 3-2 in the sixth, Pineda gave up two runs in the bottom of that inning on a two-out single to the 9-hole hitter, catcher Luke Maile, a .206 hitter.

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.

Chapman lighting up jugs gun in record figures

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman had the Yankee Stadium crowd ooing and ahhing in the ninth inning of Monday night’s 2-1 victory over the Orioles as he threw the five fastest pitches ever tracked by MLB Statcast. They ranged in speeds of 104.0 to 105.1 miles per hour.

Chapman’s 105.1-mph fastball, on the sixth pitch to J.J. Hardy, matched his major-league-record 105.1-mph fastball that was clocked by FanGraphs’ PITCHf/x Sept. 24, 2010 with the Reds against the Padres at San Diego’s Petco Park. Statcast reports that Chapman has a majors-leading 217 pitches of at least 100 mph this season. The next most is 73 by the Braves’ Mauricio Cabrera. According to Statcast, 46.1 percent of Chapman’s 471 total pitches have hit triple digits.

One of Chapman’s No Runs DMC partners, Andrew Miller, had his franchise record streak of consecutive relief appearances with at least one strikeout end at 28, the longest by a major-league reliever since the Indians’ Cody Allen had 29 in a row from Sept. 29 through July 8 last year.

Miller pitched the eighth inning Monday night and retired Manny Machado on a tap to the mound, gave up a single to right-center by Mark Trumbo and got Matt Wieters on a 6-4-3 double play. The DP may be a pitcher’s best friend, but in this case it cost Miller a chance to extend his streak. He will just have to start a new one.

The trio of Chapman, Miller and Dellin Betances has combined for a 2.02 ERA with 26 walks and 191 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings.
The Yankees are 18-1 when all three pitch in the same game. In those 19 games, No Runs DMC has teamed to post a 1.21 ERA with 16 walks and 90 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings and held hitters to a .138 batting average in 203 at-bats.

Carlos Beltran went 3-for-4 Monday night, his ninth game this season with at least three hits. He has had three such games in his past 10 games and six his past past 24. Beltran has a slash line of .379/.419/.552 (33- for-87) with 10 runs, six doubles my three home runs, 14 RBI, five walks and a hit by pitch in 24 games and 87 at-bats since April 20.

One off Beltran’s three hits Monday night was a double, career No. 523 to tie Hall of Famer Willie Mays for 45th place on the all- time list. Next up at 524 is Ken Griffey Jr., who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this coming weekend. In 43rd place at 525 is yet another Hall of Famer, Ted Williams. Beltran has 15 seasons with at least 20 doubles, which is tied with Chili Davis for fifth most by a switch hitter in the modern era. The only switch hitters with more such seasons are Eddie Murray (20), Chipper Jones and Pete Rose (18 each) and Roberto Alomar (16).

Alex Rodriguez’s ninth home run of the season and 696th of his career was his 1,758th hit with the Yankees, which broke a tie with Wally Pipp for 17th place on the franchise’s career hit list. A-Rod has 69 career home runs against the Orioles, his second most against any opponent, topped only by the 70 he has slugged against the Angels.

Nathan Eovaldi, back in the rotation to start Tuesday night, is averaging 97.1 mph on his fastball this season, according to FanGraphs’ PITCHf/x, which is the highest average velocity in the American League and the second highest in the majors only to the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (98.1). Eovaldi earned his way back into the rotation by pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings in three relief outings.

Who’s on 1st? Ref, not A-Rod, while Tex is hurt

Any plans Alex Rodriguez may have had taking grounders at first base before Monday night’s scheduled game at Yankee Stadium were washed away as batting practice had to be canceled due to severe thunderstorm activity.

Then again, it might have been just a waste of time for A-Rod, who has stated a desire to play the position if it will get him into the lineup more often. Another injury to Mark Teixeira has opened up first base again, but manager Joe Girardi clearly prefers to use rookie Rob Refsnyder there if Tex is not available.

Teixeira, who has missed time this season because of right knee and neck issues, was out of the starting lineup Monday night for the second straight game. He fouled a ball off the area above his left ankle Saturday. A CT scan after the game was negative, but the area is very swollen. Girardi said he did not anticipate being able to use Teixeira Monday or Tuesday nights.

Rodriguez was in the lineup as the designated hitter against the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman and did what will keep him in the lineup, which was to hit a home run. His blow into the left field bleachers off a 2-0 meatball from Gausman in the second inning was A-Rod’s ninth home run of the season and career No. 696.

Before the thunderstorms hit, Rodriguez was able to hit into a BP session and banged several balls into the seats, so he was able to take that into the game.

A-Rod lost playing time at DH against right-handed pitching when Girardi used Carlos Beltran while he was recovering from a hamstring strain. Beltran was back in right field Monday night.

The Orioles tied the score in the third on a solo homer by Jonathan Schoop off Ivan Nova. Beltran helped build the run in the bottom of that inning that turned out to be the decider for the Yanks. Beltran went against the shift with a single to left field that pushed Brett Gardner to third base from where he scored on a fly ball by Brian McCann.

Nova got the Yankees to the seventh inning when Girardi began the merry-go-round of Dellin Betances in the seventh, Andrew Miller in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth for three more scoreless innings that ran the bullpen’s current shutout string to 22. Chapman had the Yankee Stadium crowd of 31,102 buzzing while pitching to J.J. Hardy when one pitch zoomed in at 105 miles per hour, the fastest pitch thrown ib the major leagues this season.

Rodriguez did not take well to playing first base last year when the Yankees asked him to work out at the position early in the season. He played poorly there and seemed content to be a permanent DH rather than have to wear a glove again, which he did with distinction as a Gold Glove winner at shortstop and third base.

But that was two hip surgeries ago for Rodriguez, who will turn 41 later this month. His .216 batting average is 79 points below his career mark. He is 2-for-13 (.154) on the homestand.

Refsnyder, who was an outfielder in college and an infielder in the minor leagues, has done a decent job at first base and has given the Yankees consistent if unspectacular offense. He is batting .269 with eight doubles and 10 RBI in 93 at-bats.

“He has just had the one day of work, so I’m not ready to commit to that yet,” Girardi said. “Right now I’m going with Ref there. Alex is DHing tonight so I’m going with Ref there. It’s something that we’ll continue to talk about but we’ll stick for Ref for now.”

The Yankees need to win games and not be giving auditions for an important position at this stage of the season. A-Rod had his chance to be a factor at first base and did not work hard enough when the Yankees needed him. Now that playing time as the DH is threatened, he picks up a first base glove. Girardi is making the right call here.

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.

Yanks have major workload after ‘vacation’

SAN DIEGO — Carlos Beltran quickly reminded reporters that at 39 he is not the oldest player on either All-Star squad. American League teammate David Ortiz of the Red Sox is 40, the same age as Beltran’s Yankees teammate, Alex Rodriguez. National League pitcher Bartolo Colon of the Mets is older than all of them at 43.

“I’m great, man,” Beltran said. “I feel happy. I feel blessed. I’m 39 years old. Most of the guys here, other than Bartolo and David — I’m the third oldest player in the All-Star Game. Just being able to be here is gratifying and, for me, it’s motivational.”

Beltran certainly earned his ninth All-Star selection with a strong first half in which he has led the Yankees in all three Triple Crown categories — batting average (.299), home runs (19) and RBI (56). Relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller earned their All-Star berths as well.

Considering the Yankees only played .500 ball (44-44) to the break it is a credit to all three that they earned the trip here to Petco Park, one of baseball’s most striking facilities in the city with the most pleasant weather in the United States.

The AL earned home field advantage in the World Series with a 4-2 victory. Betances and Miller were among the 10 pitchers AL manager Ned Yost of the Royals employed in the game. Betances gave up a hit and threw a wild pitch in the seventh inning but did not allow a run and had two strikeouts. Miller had a rougher time of it in the eighth. The lefthander loaded the bases on two hits and a walk with two out and needed relief from the Astros’ Will Harris, who ended the threat with a called strikeout of the Cardinals’ Alemys Diaz.

The All-Star break is baseball’s vacation, even for those who travel to the game. Beltran’s nagging hamstring limited him to no more than one at-bat. It was doubtful that he would play the field, but he actually manned right field for the sixth and seventh innings as a replacement for the Red Sox’ Mookie Betts. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has gotten Beltran at-bats as the designated hitter, which has relegated a slumping A-Rod to the bench. In his only plate appearance, Beltran flied out to center field.

Once vacation is over, however, the Yankees have to get back to the business of trying to work their way into contention for the AL East title or at least one of the wild card entries. They are 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Orioles in the division and 5 1/2 back of the second wild card berth. They have quite a few clubs to climb over to accomplish their annual goal of reaching postseason play.

“It has to happen,” Beltran said. “It has got to be this; it has got to be in the second half. We have to find a way to play better, man. I know I have said this all through the first half, but I do believe we have what it takes to compete and be contenders in our division. But we have to show it. We haven’t shown it yet.”

Beltran also recognizes that the upcoming homestand after the break that includes visits by two division leaders (Baltimore and NL West leading San Francisco) after a series with rival Boston could be a do-or-die stretch of games. Already there is debate about whether the Yankees will be buyers or sellers at the non-waiver trade deadline of Aug. 1. Beltran and the Yankees’ No Runs DMC trio of relievers that also includes Aroldis Chapman could be helpful to any contender should general manager Brian Cashman decide to move any of them for needed prospects.

“I’m prepared for anything,” Beltran said. “I love where I am, but at the end of the day, we understand that we don’t know what route the team is going to take. I do believe that home stand will be an important one.”