CC Sabathia recovered from a shaky start to pitch six innings, Brett Gardner had a pair of tying hits and the New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Tuesday night to ensure their sixth straight series win.
With their ninth victory in 11 games, the Yankees remained three games behind AL East-leading Boston and opened a six-game lead over the Twins for the top AL wild card. At 84-67, the Yankees are 17 games over .500 for the first time since September 2015.
Minnesota, which started the night 1 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card, has lost four of five.
Pitching on seven days’ rest in a game that started 65 minutes late because of a downpour, Sabathia (12-5) allowed Minnesota to load the bases in his first four pitches. He fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 but hung on and allowed six hits with one walk and five strikeouts. He retired 10 in a row during one stretch.
Sabathia stranded the bases loaded in the sixth when Gardner caught Eddie Rosario’s wind-assisted fly just in front of the left-field wall.
Sabathia fanned Chris Gimenez in the second for his 2,833rd strikeout, passing Mickey Lolich for sole possession of 18th overall and third among left-handers behind Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton.
Aroldis Chapman worked a scoreless ninth for his 20th save in 24 chances.
New York won despite going 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position and stranding 14.
Minnesota loaded the bases in the first when Brian Dozier singled to center on Sabathia’s first pitch, Joe Maurer took a pitch and dropped a bunt down the third-base line that rolled off the bag and Jorge Polanco reached on a bunt single to third when the original out call by first base umpire Gary Cederstrom was overturned on a video review.
Eduardo Escobar hit a run-scoring, double-play grounder, but Gardner tied the score with an RBI double in the second that extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Max Kepler sent a drive off the second deck in right leading off the third, the first home run by a left-hander off Sabathia this season. Gardner tied the score again in the fourth with an RBI single that chased Berrios (12-8), who allowed three runs, five hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.
Alan Busenitz relieved with two on, threw a wild pitch, then allowed Aaron Judge’s go-ahead sacrifice fly.
First baseman Joe Mauer booted Greg Bird’s hard-hit, bases-loaded grounder for a run-scoring error in the fifth that made it 4-2. Starlin Castro, who had three hits, added an RBI single in the sixth.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano (left shin) was in New York for personal reasons and planned to return to Minnesota on Tuesday night. With the minor league season over and the Twins’ Instructional League plans unclear due to facility damage caused by Hurricane Irma, the club is concerned he might not face enough pitching to get his timing back before any postseason games.
Yankees: DH Matt Holliday sat for the second straight game as manager Joe Girardi opted for a lefty-laden lineup against Berrios. ”Matty’ll probably be back in there tomorrow,” Girardi said.
RHP Luis Severino (13-6, 2.93 ERA) starts Wednesday’s series finale, moved up two days from his scheduled outing Friday in Toronto. The Yankees want Severino in position to make three more regular-season starts. He will be facing Minnesota for the first time. RHP Bartolo Colon (6-13, 6.39 ERA) is 4-5 with a 4.80 ERA in 12 starts since signing with the Twins on July 7.
Tuesday's MLB results:
Baltimore Orioles 0-1 Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees 5-2 Minnesota Twins
Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 Los Angeles Dodgers
Pittsburgh Pirates 0-1 Milwaukee Brewers
Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 Kansas City Royals
Cincinnati Reds 7-8 St.Louis Cardinals
Detroit Tigers 8-9 Oakland Athletics
Miami Marlins 5-4 New York Mets
Tampa Bay Rays 1-2 Chicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves 2-4 Washington Nationals
Houston Astros 3-1 Chicago White Sox
Los Angeles Angels 3-6 Cleveland Indians
San Diego Padres 6-2 Arizona Diamondbacks
Seattle Mariners 1-3 Texas Rangers
San Francisco Giants 4-3 Colorado Rockies