Girardi believes surging Yanks can continue climb

Girardi believes surging Yanks can continue climb

NEW YORK -- The Yankees insisted that they weren't waving the white flag on anything by dealing away some of their most attractive assets a month ago, expressing the belief that the players still in their clubhouse would continue to push for a postseason berth.

They may have known exactly what they were doing. Fueled by the crop of Baby Bombers, the Yankees (67-61) reached a new season high-water mark of six games over .500 with Saturday's 13-5 win over the Orioles, closing their deficit for the second American League Wild Card to just 2 1/2 games.

"Everybody is together, everybody tries to do his job," said Starlin Castro, who tied a career high with four hits in the victory. "We're in the same mood. Everybody's trying to win, and I think we're in a pretty good mood."

Castro's four-hit game

Just four weeks ago, Castro was one of the voices campaigning for the front office not to break up the band, though those pleas ultimately fell upon deaf ears. A first domino fell on July 25 with a deal shipping Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, and four straight losses leading into the non-waiver Trade Deadline convinced managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner that the correct move was to sell.

General manager Brian Cashman dispatched outfielder Carlos Beltran to the Rangers, left-hander Andrew Miller to the Indians, and right-hander Ivan Nova to the Pirates. The return brought an exciting prospect haul that has refreshed the farm system, but other than relievers Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren, there did not appear to be much coming in to help for 2016.

"I told you, we were here to win games," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I really liked some of the things that we did, bringing up some of the young kids. I thought they could help us. I know obviously we traded away our leading RBI and home run guy, and two really good relievers, but I still felt there was enough talent in that room to win. We need to continue to do it."

Clearly, some underestimated what the Yankees would be pushing through their pipeline -- most notably with catcher Gary Sanchez, who hit his 11th home run in his 23rd game on Saturday to set a Major League record.

Sanchez's solo homer

"You throw Gary in the middle, with guys getting on in front of him, it's lengthened our lineup," Brian McCann said. "There's a lot more confidence. Top to bottom, we're playing our best baseball of the season. Everybody's grinding out at-bats, and it's great to see."

No one expected Sanchez to approximate the second coming of Babe Ruth, but the Yankees thought their offense would be boosted by the arrivals of Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. They've deleted Nova and Nathan Eovaldi (injury) from the rotation, but Girardi believes that with contributions from relative newcomers like Luis Cessa and Chad Green, the Yankees also have enough pitching to make a run.

"I believe in these guys. I think our young kids have done a pretty good job," Girardi said. "I know Greenie didn't get through the fifth today, but he's facing a very potent lineup. … I believe we can."

The Yankees have won four straight and are 11-5 since Aug. 10 as they eye a three-game sweep of the Orioles on Sunday. They play 28 of their remaining 33 games in the division, and though they're seven games under .500 against the American League East (20-27), the new-look Yanks have won seven of their last 10 against the Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles.

"We're going to show up tomorrow and do what we did today, and play hard," McCann said. "I haven't really started looking at the standings at this point. We've just got to continue to play good baseball, and everything else will take care of itself."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.