Results tagged ‘ Greg Bird ’

A-Rod says he will call it a career after Friday

As the days and nights went by with his name missing from the lineup as the result of a lack of production (two hits in his past 28 at-bats), Alex Rodriguez took pause at his situation. Then a phone call from Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner came Wednesday that began a negotiating period that led to the event Sunday morning at Yankee Stadium.

At a rare news conference for which nothing had been leaked to a media outlet beforehand, the Yankees and Rodriguez announced that he will play his last major league game at the end of the week. Following Friday night’s game against the Rays, Rodriguez will be unconditionally released by the Yankees from his player contract in order to sign a contract to serve as a special advisor and instructor with the club through Dec. 31, 2017. A-Rod’s player contract was to run through the 2017 season, so the Yankees will pay off the remainder after Friday.

“This is a tough day,” Rodriguez said. “I love this game, and I love this team. Today, I am saying goodbye to both.”

Rodriguez, 41, was overtaken by emotion and openly wept before he could continue. He made the decision after several days of negotiations directly with Steinbrenner. Speculation had increased over the past two weeks as Rodriguez lost designated hitter at-bats to Carlos Beltran, who was later traded, and most recently to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up Gary Sanchez.

“The last four weeks have not been fun,” Rodriguez said. “It has been extremely painful and embarrassing being on the bench. I am very excited about Friday.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he would have to talk to Rodriguez about how he might be used in the games prior to Friday that include a three-game series at Boston. A-Rod was not in Sunday’s starting lineup against the Indians. Brian McCann was the DH.

“You always think you have one more hit in you, but I am at peace with it,” Rodriguez said about his decision. “The goal in New York never changes, to work toward winning a championship. Hal recognized that I enjoy working with young players. I am invested in these kids.”

“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which we know he can flourish,” Steinbrenner said in a prepared statement. “We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system. Our job as am organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to contribute directly to their growth and success. Baseball runs through his blood. He’s a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a willing and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees.”

General manager Brian Cashman recalled several years ago when Rodriguez came back from an injury-rehabilitation stint at Class A Tampa giving a glowing scouting report on Greg Bird, who was lost for the 2016 season because of an injury but who is in the Yankees’ sights as their future first baseman.

“I look forward to his impacting our young players,” Cashman said. “Alex has always been a leader and a mentor.”

“I’ll remember how much he loved the game and gave back to it,” Girardi said. “He has been a teacher forever. Alex has what every person should have — a passion for something. He has had that for baseball.”

Rodriguez thanked his mother and two daughters; friends and other family; managers, coaches and teammates; commissioner Rob Manfred and fans “for letting me enjoy playing this game.”

Cashman, who was very busy at the non-waiver trade deadline with deals involving Beltran, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, said there had been no interest expressed by clubs in Rodriguez, who could still change his mind after the Friday night game and pursue talks with other teams on his own. He made that seem doubtful, however.

“I have not thought past the pinstripes,” Rodriguez said. “My horizon is Friday.”


BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell presents 2007 AL MVP Award to Alex Rodriguez April 2, 2008 at Yankee Stadium

Rodriguez, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player (2003, ’05, ’07) and 14-time All-Star (1996-98, ’00-08, ‘10-11), ranks fourth on baseball’s all-time list with 696 home runs, including a record 25 grand slams. He is second in major-league history with 2,084 runs batted in (trailing only Hank Aaron’s 2,297), eighth with 2,021 runs scored and 19th with 3,114 hits. Rodriguez has had 14 seasons of at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI (1996, ’98-2010), the only big leaguer to accomplish the feat.

Originally acquired Feb. 16, 2004, from the Rangers in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named (Joaquin Arias), Rodriguez shifted from shortstop to third base before settling in as the DH last year. In 12 seasons for the Yankees, A-Rod reached postseason play nine times and won the World Series in 2009. During that postseason, he batted .365 with 15 runs, five doubles, six home runs and 18 RBI in 15 games and 52 at-bats and won the Babe Ruth Award from the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as the outstanding player of the 2009 postseason.

Displaying his 2009 World Series ring, Cashman said, “We do not have this in our trophy case if not for the significant contributions of Alex Rodriguez.”

A-Rod concurred. He spoke of that World Series victory as his most memorable achievement. Referring to the final out, he said, “Mariano [Rivera] on the mound, Robinson [Cano] throwing the ball to Tex [Mark Teixeira] at first base is something I will never forget.”

In 1,506 career games with the Yankees, Rodriguez has hit .284 with 1,012 runs, 262 doubles, nine triples, 351 home runs, 1,094 RBI, 779 walks, 152 stolen bases, a .378 on-base percentage and a .901 OPS in 5,568 at-bats. On the Yankees’ all-time lists, A-Rod ranks second in grand slams (15), sixth in homers and slugging percentage (.523), seventh in OPS (min: 2,500PA), 10th in runs, 11th in RBI and stolen bases, 12th in walks, 17th in games played and 18th in on-base percentage.

Rodriguez acknowledged that not all of his career was glorious. He was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against performance enhancing drugs, which has tainted his legacy.

“I want to be remembered as someone who was madly in love with baseball, as someone who slipped and fell a lot but still got back up,” Rodriguez said.

He got back up one last time when he hit 33 home runs in 2015, although he tailed off dramatically the final two months of the season. That stretch continued into 2016. Over the calendar year since last August, Rodriguez had batted .198 with 124 strikeouts in 398 at-bats.

As Cashman said, “The game tells you when.”

With Teixeira’s announcement last week that he will retire at season’s end, CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner will be all that remains from the 2009 postseason roster. We are truly seeing the end of an era.

3-run homer returns to Yankees’ repertoire

Why does it seem as though Carlos Beltran is always making history? The Yankees’ right fielder did it again with his game-winning home run in the eighth inning Monday night that unlocked a 2-2 score. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner were on base after two-out singles when Beltran connected for his 14th homer of the season that turned back the Angels.

The three-run home run, which used to define the Yankees, has become a rarity this season. It was the first home run with more than two runners on board for the Yankees since Mark Teixeira’s three-run Jack April 7 against the Astros. MLB Network’s research showed that the 53-game drought between Yankees’ three-run homers or grand slams was the club’s longest in more than 40 years. They went 59 games without a three-run homer or grand slam in 1975 from June 20 through Aug. 19.

Just a year ago, the Yankees led the major leagues with a franchise-record 47 home runs of three or more runs (40 three-run homers, seven salamis), 18 more than the next-highest team (Blue Jays, 29) and the third-highest total in history (1996 Mariners, 53; 2000 Cardinals, 48). Only four of the Yankees’ 58 homers to date have been for three or fours runs.

Beltran’s blast batting right-handed off Angels lefthander Jose Alvarez was the Yanks’ second go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later this season. The other was Gardner’s walk-off solo shot in the ninth April 23 against the Rays.

Beltran’s four go-ahead homers in the eighth inning or later in three years with the Yankees are the most on the club since 2011. Three of the four were three-run homers: also Aug. 14, 2015 at Toronto (eighth inning) and June 20, 2014 at Yankee Stadium against the Orioles (walk-off in ninth). Monday night’s home run was the Yankees’ latest go-ahead homer of at least three runs since Greg Bird’s three-run shot in the top of the 10th Sept. 22 last year at Toronto.

The Yankees are 10-1 this season when Ellsbury and Gardner both score runs in the same game and 32-5 since the start of 2015. Brian McCann and Starlin Castro, who tied the score in the seventh with two-out solo homers off Matt Shoemaker, hit the Yankees’ fourth set of back-to-back homers this season, tied for third-most in the AL (Orioles, 9; Tigers, 5) and equals their 2015 total of back-to-back dingers

Rookie Dress-Up Night: 1980s Hip Hop

Rookup

Following Thursday night’s game, select Yankees players participated in rookie dress-up night. The theme was 1980s hip hop.

THE BEASTIE BOYS: First baseman Greg Bird (back center in sunglasses) and pitchers Nick Goody (red shirt, right of Bird) and Bryan Mitchell (far left).

SALT N PEPA: Pitcher James Pazos (far right) and outfielder Rico Noel (immediately to the left of Pazos).

LL COOL J: Infielder Jose Pirela (fourth from left).

RUN DMC: Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (in glasses and black hat, immediately to the right of Severino); Tanaka’s Interpreter Shingo Horie (black clothing, third from right) and Japanese Media Advisor Yoshiki Sato (third from left).

EVERLAST: Second baseman Rob Refsnyder (second from left).

FLAVOR FLAV: Pitcher Luis Severino (front and center, wearing clock).

CC, Warren, long ball clich wild card spot for Yanks

Finally.

In what seemed a foregone conclusion at the start of the final homestand of the regular season that the Yankees would clinch their first postseason appearance in three seasons, it took until the last home game of 2015 for them to make it a reality.

After three straight losses to the Red Sox, the Yankees ended the agonizing path to a wild-card playoff berth Thursday night with a 4-1 victory over their long-time rivals. The Yankees were able to taste some champagne before (and perhaps during) their charter flight to Baltimore where they will start a three-game series Friday night (weather permitting) with one more task remaining, that of guaranteeing they are the home team for the wild-card game next Tuesday night.

Just qualifying for that game had been a chore for the Yanks, who were eliminated from the American League East race Tuesday by the division champion Blue Jays. Boston put up a roadblock for three nights, but the Yankees broke through on a damp, chilly night in a game that was played through a steady drizzle over the first six innings.

Having had trouble hitting with runners in scoring position in the series (6-for-29, 30 runners left on base in 27 innings), the Yanks resorted to their traditional ally — the home run — to provide the support for the quality pitching supplied by CC Sabathia, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances.

Solo shots by Carlos Beltran off starter Rich Hill in the second inning, Greg Bird off Jean Machi in the seventh and Rob Refsnyder off Heath Hembree in the eighth powered the Yankees to the 10,000th victory in franchise history. The other RBI for the Yankees was by Brendan Ryan on a two-out single off Hill in the second.

The hearty souls in the announced crowd of 40,033 at Yankee Stadium were rewarded for their endurance under miserable weather conditions.

Upon returning from the disabled list Sept. 9 after recovering from right knee inflammation, Sabathia vowed to have impact on the Yankees’ drive to the postseason, and he did exactly that. The big lefthander held Boston to one run, six hits and three walks (one intentional) with three strikeouts in five innings. In five starts since his return from the DL, Sabathia was 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA in 29 innings.

Sabathia leads the Yankees in innings pitched with 167 1/3. Excluding the strike-shortened seasons of 1981 and 1994, the Yankees have never completed a season in which no pitcher reached 170 innings.

Even more impressive Thursday night was Warren, who supplied three innings of shutout, one-hit, three-strikeout relief. Manager Joe Girardi planned to have Warren pitch out of the bullpen in the wild card game, so nailing down Thursday night’s game meant that Warren does not have to bs used as a starter in Baltimore.

Betances worked the ninth and retired the side on order with two strikeouts for his ninth save. Betances’ game-ending strikeout of Josh Rutledge was the 589th punchout by the Yankees’ bullpen this season, which ties the major league record set in 2012 by the Rockies. The Yanks will likely establish a new standard sometime over the weekend.

This year’s Yankees are the first team in major league history to have seven pitchers get at least 100 strikeouts in a season. Prior to this season, they had never had more than five pitchers reach triple-digit strikeouts in a season (four times, most recently 2013).

Severino continues to move up rotation ladder

The Yankees continue to hold out hope that they can catch the Blue Jays and win the American League East title, although the calendar keeps betraying them. They lost another day Sunday when their 6-1 victory over the White Sox was trumped by the Jays’ comeback, 5-4 victory at Toronto on Josh Donaldson’s ninth-inning home run.

So the space between the Yankees and the Blue Jays remains four games with seven to play. Yet manager Joe Girardi and his players are not yet ready to discuss the possibility of being in the wild card game, which grows more likely by the day.

It was hard not to think of that Sunday as the Yankees reduced their magic number for qualifying for the postseason for the first time in three years to three with a victory that featured six shutout innings from Luis Severino, who in a very short time has moved up the rotation ladder.

“He knows how to pitch,” catcher Brian McCann said of Severino, who just may enter the conversation once Girardi decided to talk about his wild-card game plans.

With Masahiro Tanaka still nursing an aching hamstring, it calls to question which pitcher would start the wild-card game that if the season ended tomorrow would be played at Yankee Stadium. At this point, the Yankees cannot know for sure who their opponent will be so setting up a starter now would be foolish.

Girardi did not announce his rotation for the final home series, a four-game set against the Red Sox, beyond Ivan Nova in the first game Monday night against Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. The Sox will follow with Rick Porcello Tuesday night, Wade Miley Wednesday night and Rich Hill Thursday night while the Yankees have listed TBA (to be announced).

If he is healthy, Tanaka could get the call Tuesday or Wednesday night. Thursday night would seem doubtful if Tanaka is in line to start the wild-card game, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6. Then again, Girardi could choose Michael Pineda to start that game, and after what everyone saw Sunday Severino might have worked himself into the mix.

The rookie righthander scattered five hits over six innings with one walk and two strikeouts in improving his record to 5-3 with a 2.77 ERA. It was the second career scoreless start for Severino (also Aug. 29 at Atlanta). Over his past seven starts (since Aug. 22), he is 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA in 38 1/3 innings. Severino is the first pitcher in franchise history to allow two or fewer runs in eight starts within his first 10 career major-league games.

The final score is a bit misleading because it was a 1-0 game for five of Severino’s six innings. The Yankees got a run without a hit in the first inning off Erik Johnson thanks to two errors by first baseman Jose Abreu but did not score again until Dustin Ackley led off the sixth with his ninth home run, his third since joining the Yankees. They added a second run that inning on a passed ball by catcher Rob Brantly.

Ackley has also worked himself into the playoff mix for the Yanks. Obtained July 30 in a trade from the Mariners, Ackley was out for a month with a back injury but has batted .300 with seven RBI in 40 at-bats since and could displace Stephen Drew as the Yanks’ regular second baseman.

Drew has been battling an inner-ear infection the past 10 days, an ailment that has caused dizziness and affected his balance. Drew and Brendan Ryan, who played third base Sunday, have been in a platoon at second base much of the second half.

The Yankees were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position before they got two hits in a row in those circumstances in the seventh — a single by Alex Rodriguez as a pinch hitter that loaded the bases and another single by Jacoby Ellsbury that got a run home. Both Yankees runs in the eighth were courtesy of rookies — Greg Bird with an RBI single and Slade Heathcott with a sacrifice fly.

The Yanks finished 3-for-19 (.158) with runners in scoring position and left 15 on base, but those two runs in the eighth meant that Girardi did not have to use Andrew Miller in the ninth.

Sunday’s crowd of 38,690 boosted home attendance to 3,036,446 that marked the 17th consecutive season that the Yankees have drawn at least three million fans to the Stadium. The 2015 paid home attendance will reflect only 80 dates because of the single-admission doubleheader Sept. 12 against the Blue Jays.

Bird likes those ducks on the pond

Take heed all you sluggers that refuse to bunt against the shift, especially leading off an inning in a tie game when getting on base is the priority.

It works!

How delightful it was to see Brian McCann push his ego aside and drop a bunt to a practically empty left side of the infield for a leadoff single in the 10th inning Tuesday night. It was a rally starter for the Yankees, and they cashed in later in the inning on a three-run home run by Greg Bird off relief pitcher Mark Lowe.

There was a playoff atmosphere at Rogers Centre where the Yankees got back to 2 1/2 games behind the firt-place Blue Jays in the American League East with the 6-4, 10-inning victory before a packed house of 47,992. Bird’s homer quieted the crowd, which woke up momentarily in the bottom of the 10th on a home run by Edwin Encarnacion.

Bird has homered in three straight games and has 10 homers and 28 RBI in 34 games. The rookie first baseman also doubled. Of his past 17 hits, 13 have been for extra bases (eight home runs and five doubles).

Put people on base in front of Bird and watch out. He is batting .370 with four doubles, eight home runs and 26 RBI in 54 at-bats with runners on base compared to .164 with three doubles, two homers and two RBI in 67 at-bats with the bases empty.

It sure would be nice if the Yankees had Masahiro Tanaka available to pitch Wednesday night in the series finale, but the Japanese righthander was scratched because of a hamstring injury with Ivan Nova taking his place against Toronto’s Marcus Stroman.

Luis Severino was not the least bit overwhelmed starting an important game against a team he had faced twice previously and beat him up 11 days ago at Yankee Stadium (six earned runs, six hits, two home runs in 2 1/3 innings).

The rookie did give up the 2-0 lead the Yankees gave him in the first inning, but he held the AL’s most potent lineup to three hits. The 2-3-4 sluggers Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion — each with more than 30 home runs this season — were a combined 0-for-7 with two walks.

One of the walks was to Donaldson, who scored the tying run in the sixth on a two-out single by Justin Smoak. The other run off Severino was a solo homer in the third by Kevin Pillar.

Bautista did more damage with his strong right arm than anything else. He killed two Yankees rallies with outfield assists. The right fielder gunned down Dustin Ackley at third base in the seventh on a play that was overturned by a replay challenge after the original call was that the runner was safe.

Even more dramatic was Bautista’s throw in the ninth inning that got Chris Young at the plate. The Yankees had runners on second and third with none out, but the double play foiled things and after a walk to Brett Gardner Alex Rodriguez flied out.

An insurance run or two there would have been a big help in the bottom of the ninth for Andrew Miller, who blew a save for only the second time in 36 opportunities this year when he gave up a one-out home run to Dioner Navarro. The Blue Jays went on to load the bases with two out against Miller, but he struck out Donaldson as the game went into extras.

The Yankees attacked Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada early by scoring twice in the first inning. The suddenly-hot Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by McCann that also sent Rodriguez, who had walked, to third base. Carlos Beltran got A-Rod home with a sacrifice fly. Beltran got an even bigger RBI in the eighth with a solo homer off Liam Hendriks before the ninth-inning turn of events.

Ellsbury doubled twice and is batting .440 in 25 at-bats during his six-game hitting streak. Since the start of 2013, Ellsbury has hit safely in 23 of 25 games at Rogers Centre and reached base on a hit, walk or hit by pitch in all but one. In a 12-game hitting streak at Toronto dating to June 24 last year, Ellsbury is hitting .431 with eight runs, four doubles, two triples, two home runs and eight RBI in 51 at-bats.

Blue Jays lefthander David Price, the winning pitcher Monday night over the Yankees with seven shutout innings, lowered his AL-leading ERA to 2.34. He has won 13 games since June 1 and is 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA since being traded to Toronto from Detroit. Price, who was 9-4 with the Tigers, is one of four pitchers since 1893 to win at least eight games and had winning records for two different teams in the same season. The other three all pitched for the Yankees during their careers: Hank Borowy, traded by the Yanks to the Cubs in 1945; David Cone, traded by the Blue Jays to the Yanks in 1995 and Bartolo Colon, traded by the Indians to the Expos in 2002. Colon, now with the Mets, pitched for the Yankees in 2011. Since 1980, four other pitchers won at least eight of their first 10 starts with the new team after being acquired by an in-season trade: Rick Sutcliffe in 1984 for the Cubs, Doyle Alexander in 1987 for the Tigers, Randy Johnson in 1998 for the Astros and CC Sabathia in 2008 for the Brewers. The latter three pitched for the Yankees during their careers: Alexander in 1982 and ’83, Johnson in 2005 and ’06 and Sabathia since 2009.

Price is right for Blue Jays

If the Yankees ever get back into first place in the American League East, it will have to be after they leave Toronto. The Blue Jays ensured they will hold the top spot in the division over the duration of the series at Rogers Centre with a 4-2 victory Monday night.

Toronto boosted its division lead to 3 1/2 games (3 in the loss column), which means that even if the Yankees were to win Tuesday and Wednesday nights they would still be in second place upon leaving Canada.

The Yankees ran into David Price, every bit the ace Matt Harvey is to the Mets and moreso. Unlike Harvey, whom the Mets pulled after five innings Sunday night and paid for it when the Yankees pummeled his successors, Price went seven innings and shut out the Bombers on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.

There was a time in the eighth inning when it resembled what happened to the Mets in the sixth inning Sunday night at Citi Field as the first three Yankees batters reached base against the shaky Toronto bullpen and put a run across. The turning point may have been a called third strike on Brett Gardner on a pitch at the top of the letters that was borderline to say the least.

Brett Cecil followed that with strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann, which sent the Yankees packing. They got a two-out home run from Greg Bird in the ninth inning off closer Roberto Osuna (17th save) but nothing more in dropping the first game of the series.

In essence, the game came apart for the Yankees in the bottom of the first inning when the Blue Jays scored three times off Adam Warren, who recovered nicely but only after the horses had left the barn. Warren started the game with a single, a hit batter and another single for one run, a wild pitch and an infield out for a second run and a double by Justin Smoak for a third run.

That was more than sufficient support for Price, who had merely one challenging inning among his seven. An errant throw by second baseman Cliff Pennington, a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and a walk to Gardner loaded the bases with one out before Price recovered to strike out Rodriguez and retire McCann on a fly ball to center field.

Those were the first two of 14 consecutive outs by Price, who improved his American League Cy Young Award resume with a 17-5 record, including 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 69 1/3 innings since joining the Blue Jays in a trade from the Tigers. That is the definition of an ace, which is something the Mets and Harvey have to learn.

Yankees win big after Harvey departs

How is that innings limit on Matt Harvey looking now? To the Yankees, it looked great Sunday night.

No sooner had Harvey been told his night was over after the fifth inning despite working on a one-hit shutout than the Yankees got on the board finally and swayed the momentum of the game. An 11-2 pasting won the Subway Series, four games to two, for the Yankees and moved them to 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Blue Jays in the American League East on the way to Toronto for a three-game showdown at Rogers Centre.

The Mets had to wonder what kind of karma was going on after Harvey was pulled after throwing 77 pitches, most of them quality, as he allowed one hit, an infield single, and one walk with seven strikeouts.

But in an attempt to limit Harvey’s innings in his return season from Tommy John surgery, the righthander was taken out of a close game and watched blurringly as the Yankees put up a five-spot in the sixth against Hansel Robles.

With Harvey out of the game, the Mets did nothing right that inning nor the rest of the game, for that matter. Two errors in the infield — an errant throw by second baseman Daniel Murphy and a dropped ball at third base by David Wright — fueled the inning highlighted by two extra-base hits — a two-run double by Carlos Beltran and a three-run home run by Dustin Ackley, who has had some big hits for the Yankees this month. Beltran, who entering the Subway Series had never had a game-winning RBI against the Mets, got two in the past two days.

In a matter of minutes, Harvey’s 1-0 gem was turned into a 5-1 Yankees lead for a run-starved and energized CC Sabathia. He gave up a quick run in the first on doubles by Ruben Tejada and Wright but after walking the bases full left the runners stranded by getting Michael Cuddyer on a foul pop. That was the first of nine straight outs as the lefthander hit his stride and kept the Yankees close until they could figure out a way to solve Harvey or hope the Mets would lift him sooner than later.

Sooner it came, and the Mets paid for it later. It turned out to be dark night for the Mets without the “Dark Knight.”

Sabathia was a winner for the first time in 10 starts since July 8 in his third straight strong start since coming off the disabled list. He has come through in his promise to be a factor down the stretch in the division race. Sabathia has allowed only two earned runs in 17 1/3 innings (1.04 ERA) in those three starts.

The night just got better for the Yankees, who added another run in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk and poured on five more in the eighth climaxed by a three-run home run by Greg Bird. And all those late runs meant Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller could stay seated in the bullpen and be well rested for the series in Toronto.

The Yankees’ 82nd victory guaranteed them a winning season for the 23rd consecutive year, the second longest above-.500 streak in major league history only to the franchise’s record stretch of 39 straight winning seasons from 1926 through 1964.

Yankees make NY pit stop on trip

A weird thing about this trip for the Yankees is that they get to sleep some nights in their own beds. They ended the Tampa Bay stop Wednesday night with a 3-1 victory and came home for their last off day of the regular season Thursday.

The flight was to New York was because their next stop on the three-series trip is in Queens to play the Mets at Citi Field in the second installment of the Subway Series. With both New York clubs in the hunt for postseason berths, an extra element of anticipation is in the air.

The Yankees remained three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East with Toronto winning at Atlanta. The Jays come home this weekend and play the Red Sox before the Yanks enter Rogers Centre for a three-game set starting Monday night.

With an eye on the Toronto series, Yankees manager Joe Girardi set his rotation for the Mets series with Masahiro Tanaka getting the ball on regular rest for Friday night’s game. That will allow the righthander to make his following start next Wednesday night at Toronto, also on regular rest. Tanaka has allowed one earned run in 16 innings against the Blue Jays this year.

Tanaka will be opposed Friday night by Mets rookie Steven Matz. Saturday afternoon’s game pits Michael Pineda against the Mets’ Noah Syndegaard. CC Sabathia will start Sunday night’s finale against the Mets’ Matt Harvey, who will be held to a strict pitch limit.

Girardi did not announce the rest of the rotation for the Toronto series, but he did say that Ivan Nova would be in the bullpen for the Mets series, which means that it is likely Adam Warren will start Monday night and Luis Severino Tuesday night against the Blue Jays.

Severino was one of two rookies who were central figures in the Yanks’ victory Wednesday night, their second in a row against Chris Archer, who had won his previous five decisions against them. Severino pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up one run, six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in improving his record to 4-3 and bouncing back from his first rough outing in his prior start at Yankee Stadium against Toronto.

The other rookie pivotal in the victory was first baseman Greg Bird, who drove in the Yankees’ first run with a double in the second inning off Archer and an important insurance run in the ninth with a monstrous home run to right field off reliever Andrew Bellatti.

The run that proved to be the deciding one was driven in by Chase Headley, who fought off a tough slider from Archer for a flare single to left field in the sixth that increased the Yankees’ lead to 2-0.

Severino came out of the game in the bottom of the sixth after he was touched for a run on a double by Steven Souza. Justin Wilson got the last out of the inning with a strikeout and the first two outs of the seventh as well.

Dellin Betances then came in and did another high-wire act similar to his Sept. 7 appearance against the Orioles when he walked three batters and struck out three in the same inning. He walked the first three Tampa Bay batters he faced Wednesday night but came back to strike out James Loney, who had three hits, on three pitches.

As he had done in Monday night’s victory, Andrew Miller struck out the side in order for his 34th save.

Yankees cannot repeat a miracle finish

No miracle for the Yankees Tuesday night, and they could have used another one to slice into the lead of the Blue Jays, who lost in Atlanta. Instead, the Yankees remained three games back of Toronto in the American League East because they could not complete another ninth-inning comeback at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Once again, they posed a threat with two outs and no one on base in their last licks. This time, the hurdle was higher as the Yankees were down by three runs, not one. That was because of a bloop, two-run single by J.P. Arencibia off Bryan Mitchell in the bottom of the eighth. Right fielder Rico Noel, the rookie who stayed in the game after pinch running for Carlos Beltran in the top of the inning, came oh-so-close to catching the ball with a diving attempt, but it fell free to give Tampa Bay two huge insurance runs.

Dustin Ackley began the Yanks’ comeback attempt with a pinch single, his fourth consecutive hit dating to Sunday. Rays first baseman James Loney was charged with an error for failing to glove a chopper by Jacoby Ellsbury that put runners on second and third with two down.

Brett Gardner, who had started Monday night’s miraculous finale with a two-out walk, had a chance to duplicate Slade Heathcott’s heroics of the night before, but his fly ball to left field was turned into a routine out.

The closest thing to a miracle for the Yankees this time out was the first-inning, opposite-field home run by Alex Rodriguez off Jake Odorizzi. A-Rod’s 32nd home run of the season came on a night it was revealed that he is playing with a bone bruise in his left knee. He also walked in the fourth and scored on Greg Bird’s impressive home run to center that climaxed a 10-pitch at-bat.

Other than that, the Yankees’ offense was as stagnant as it had been for eight innings Monday night when they totaled one hit.

Adam Warren, thrust back into the rotation with the injury to Nathan Eovaldi, made his first start since June 25 at Houston and lasted only four innings as his pitch count soared to 65. Warren gave up four hits in the first inning but only one run. An errant throw by catcher Brian McCann trying to prevent Mikie Mathook from stealing third base in the second inning accounted for the second run off Warren.

The Rays had a miracle of their own in the sixth inning. Nick Franklin, a .133 hitter who entered the game at shortstop after Asdrubal Cabrera strained his knee, trumped Bird by clocking a two-run home run to right off Nick Rumbelow, who had worked out of a jam the previous inning with two key strikeouts but gave up a leadoff single to Logan Forsythe before Franklin’s unlikely bomb.

Forced to empty his bullpen, manager Joe Girardi got quality work from Chasen Shreve and Branden Pinder before Mitchell had his second straight ineffective outing in letting the Rays pull away and leaving the Yankees hoping for another miracle.