NFL: Week 5 Picks

We’re through a fourth of the NFL season, and 3 undefeated teams remain: the Eagles, Vikings and Broncos.  These are three teams who’s defenses have been smothering, and who are starting different quarterbacks then they ended their season’s with last year.

Through four weeks, I have a 34- 30 record picking games.  Here are my thoughts on week 5.

Bye Week: New Orleans, Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Kansas City

Thursday Night Football

  • Cardinals @ 49ers: Arizona has gotten off to an p-and-down start to the season, and it continued Sunday against LA. The Cardinals out-gained the Rams 420-288 yards, but committed five turnovers, including fourth quarter interceptions by backup Drew Stanton after Carson Palmer left with a possible concussion. They find themselves with a 1-3 record, and tied with their week 5 opponents at the bottom of the NFC West. San Francisco got off a great start in week 4, putting up 14 points quickly on the Dallas Cowboys, but struggled the rest of the game.  So who can get back on track this week and pull themselves out of the cellar? I’m taking the birds, even with them having to start Stanton under center Thursday. ARIZONA WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Texans @ Vikings: Houston is the only team in the AFC South with a winning record, and other than a 27-0 drubbing in week 3, have looked pretty good.  They got their first win without JJ Watt, thanks to breakout performance from Will Fuller, the first player in franchise history to have a TD reception and a punt return for a score in the same game Minnesota’s defense is really, really good and the biggest reason they remain undefeated. Sam Bradford has been pretty good in purple and they’re succeeding without Adrian Peterson. They’ll lose soon, but it won’t be in week 5. MINNESOTA WINS
  • Bears @ Colts: Chicago picked up their first win of the season this weekend, snapping a six-game losing streak. Brian Hoyer was great in his second start for injured starter Jay Cutler, finishing 28-36 for 302 yards and two touchdowns.  The run game got going as well, while the defense picked off Matt Stafford twice in a three-point win.  Indianapolis has to rebound from a loss, in London, to the Jaguars.  Andrew Luck continues to be a no-show in the first half of games, as he threw all three of his touchdowns in the 4th quarter.  The Colts offense was plagued with dropped balls and a costly Luck interception that led to Jacksonville’s first touchdown. And their defense didn’t help, drawing costly penalties to extend a number of Jacksonville’s drives. I want to pick the Colts, who can still rebound from this slow start, but if the Bears can get another game on the ground like they did last week, they’ll get a second straight win. CHICAGO WINS
  • Jets @ Steelers: Two bad weeks in a row for the Jets have them at 1-3 heading into a game with a Steelers team coming off a drubbing of the Chiefs. The same Chiefs who had a field day on defense two weeks ago against New York.  Pittsburgh got Le’Veon Bell back, and it looked like he hadn’t missed any time.  It was another bad week for Ryan Fitpatrick and the New York offense.  The Jets defense let a supposedly hobbled Russell Wilson off the hook, and while they are capable of stopping good teams, I like the home team in this one. PITTSBURGH WINS
  • Titans @ Dolphins: Miami continues to struggle, and you have to ask when changes will be made.  They spent all this money last off-season on the defense, yet they’re bottom five there, with an 0-4 record.  Sure they played Cincinnati a week ago, but they’ve been pretty bad on both sides of the ball all year. AJ Green nearly had more receiving yards (173) than Ryan Tannehill did passing (189). Meanwhile, the Titans haven’t been much better in year two of Marcus Mariota.  They’re middle of the pack on both sides of the ball.  This is a good game for both to get things going and get some confidence, so who gets the win? Tennessee has been in every game this season, so I’ll take them to get the road victory this week. TENNESSEE WINS
  • Eagles @ Lions: Philadelphia is alone atop the NFC East, thanks to a great start from rookie Carson Wentz, and a very good defense.  Detroit has lost its last three games after barely holding on to a week 1 win in Indianapolis. Matt Stafford hasn’t been crisp, and they’re not getting much out of the running game. The Lions have been in every game, win or lose, while the Eagles have had an easy time of it early.  They’ll be well rested coming off their bye week and it will show in another victory.  PHILADELPHIA WINS
  • Patriots @ Browns: New England gets  Tom Brady back from suspension after suffering a rare loss at home, a very rare shutout loss, and their first of the season.  That being said, the Pats are in a good place at 3-1 as they welcome back their starter.  Cleveland remains the lone win-less team in the league, despite being right there at the end the of each game the past two weeks. Brady missing 4-games at his age could mean great things for New England, meaning he’ll be fresh, or it’ll mean he’s a bit rusty this week.  Or both.  Cleveland has looked better on offense the past two weeks, particularly on the ground.  But they couldn’t stop the Skins in the red-zone, where Brady thrives.  It’ll be close, but I’ll take the road team here. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Redskins @ Ravens: Washington comes in winners of two straight; Baltimore; off their first loss of the season.  The Skins were great in the red-zone of the second week in a row, and Kirk Cousins continues to be very accurate.  The Ravens lost a one point game to Oakland at home where they both out-gained and held the ball longer.  A successful two-point conversion on a fourth quarter touchdown for Baltimore was immediately followed by a foolish taunting penalty, and then a game winning drive from Derek Carr. Can Washington make it three-straight wins, or will the Ravens pick up their fourth win of the season? It’ll come down to red-zone defense and the run game.  We know both of these quarterbacks in Cousins and Joe Flacco can air it out.  I like the Ravens run game, and trust their defense at home more. BALTIMORE WINS

Sunday 4PM/425PM Games

  • Falcons @ Broncos: This is a match-up of two of the hottest teams in the NFL.  Atlanta is on a three-game winning streak, scoring at least 45 in the last two.  They’re the only team above .500 in the NFC South and coming off a game where Matt Ryan threw for over 500 yards against the Panthers.  Denver meanwhile, hasn’t lost since a week 15 road loss last year to the Steelers; and their last home loss came in week 10 last year to the Chiefs.  The Broncos defense hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game this season, so this will be a test of an extremely hot defense, versus an extremely hot offense. Which wins out? I’m going with the old adage that defense wins championships; the reigning champs will remain undefeated. DENVER WINS
  • Bengals @ Cowboys: Dallas hasn’t lost since week 1, and even that should have probably been a win.  They’re getting huge production from their rookies with no sign of slowing down.  The Bengals got back on track and evened their record up in week 4 against the Dolphins.  Both teams have defenses capable of making the stops down the stretch when necessary, but with no Dez Bryant, the Bengals have the biggest play threat on the field in A.J. Green, and that’s why I like them to snap the Cowboys win streak. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Chargers @ Raiders: San Diego’s problem this season hasn’t been scoring, it has been their inability to finish games this season, losing by less than a score each time. Oakland is starting to figure things out on offense, winners of two straight including handing the Ravens their first loss of the season. The Raiders defense is actually allowing the most yards per game, and the 11th most points per game, so there’s work to do there.  They’re going to beat the Chargers this weekend, on the strength of their offense. OAKLAND WINS
  • Bills @ Rams: In week 4, the Bills did something most teams in the Belichick era, shut out the Pats in New England. The deefnse, as well as LeSean McCoy had big gmaes for Buffalo.  The LA Rams are playing up to their competition this season, and finishing the job.  They took advantage of the Cardinals losing Carson Palmer last week, and find themselves 3-1.  Considering they havent had a winnning season 2003, this is a huge thing in itself.  Their offense is inconsistent, which is where Buffalo  will take advantage. BUFFALO WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Giants @ Packers: After starting the season 2-0, the Giants have sputtered in all areas of the game the past two weeks.  They’ve allowed big play after big play on defense, while not getting any of their own on offense.  Turnovers on special teams and offense aren’t being nullified with forcing opponents to do the same.  Green Bay hasn’t been as sharp as they’ve been in the past, but will be rested after their bye week.  The Giants have won the last three match-ups in this series, but I’m taking Aaron Rogers in this one. GREEN BAY WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Buccaneers @ Panthers: Carolina should be worried. They looked lost against Atlanta this past week, never having an answer on how to cover Julio Jones, a guy you should always game plan for as a top priority.  Tampa Bay is in the bottom third scoring wise in the league, despite putting 30-plus points on the board in two of their first four games.  Their defense has allowed at least 24 in each game as well.  So this is a good game for the Panthers to figure some stuff out on both sides of the ball before they fall any further in the standings. CAROLINA WINS
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NFL: Week 3 Picks

We’ve reached week 3 of the season, and still have 8 undefeated and 8 winless teams. There have also been a lot of big injuries early that will have a big impact on week 3 and beyond.  As for my picks, I’m 18-14 through 2 weeks. Here’s what I’m thinking going into week 3.

Thursday Night Football

  • Texans @ Patriots: Jimmy Garoppolo left with a shoulder injury for New England, who still managed to move to 2-0.  This was thanks in large part to Garoppolo’s 3 touchdown passes before his injury as well as a big performance from LeGarrett Blount in the run game. The Texans took down the Chiefs on the strength of their defense to move to 1-1, a stark difference from their 33-0 loss to Kansas City in the playoffs.  Without Garoppolo, I think the Texans will do enough to get another win to start off the week 3 action. HOUSTON WINS

Sunday 1pm Games

  • Ravens @ Jaguars: Baltimore got very lucky in week 2, as they overcame a 20-0 1st quarter deficit to improve to 2-0.  Cleveland never scored again, while Joe Flacco brought his team back with a 25-45, 302 yard performance.  Their opponents have been disappointing to me so far.  While I didn’t think the Jaguars were going to make the playoffs this season, I thought they’d be better than they’ve shown, starting 0-2 again after They crossed midfield only six times and committed three turnovers. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Lions @ Packers: Both teams enter 1-1 after losing in week 2, and are looking to keep pace with the 2-0 Vikings.  The Packers lost their game in the 4th quarter, turning the ball over twice, while allowing Rodgers to be sacked 5 times. Detroit also lost their game in the 4th quarter when they were outscored 13-0 by the Titans, including a 93-yard game winning drive.  The Lions didn’t have a go to back in week 2, losing Ameer Abdullah to an injury.   So who gets back in the win column this week? I’ll take the Packers at home with a much-needed big day from Eddie Lacy. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Redskins @ Giants: Washington won the NFC East a year ago, but have opened up this season 0-2.  Struggles in the red zone and an inability to force turnovers meant a loss in a back-and-forth affair with Dallas last week. New York’s offense moved up and down the field pretty easily on Sunday, but also struggled in the redzone, and had too many turnovers in the 1st half.  But the defense and special teams stepped up and they moved to 2-0. So who takes this division matchup?  Give me the home team to get over their redzone struggles and take advantage of Eli Manning’s league leading completion percentage, which should be even better as the Giants receiving core dropped at least 5 balls in week 2. NEW YORK WINS
  • Browns @ Dolphins: For the 5th week in a row (dating back to last season), Cleveland will be starting a different QB.  Someone should tell them this isn’t baseball, there’s no starting rotation in football.  Even with the QB carousel, the Browns almost, and should have, pulled out their first win in week 2.  They were up 20-2 on the Ravens, thanks in big part to their ground attack, but fell late.  Miami isn’t in any better a position than their week 3 opponents, as they enter action at 0-2 as well.  The Dolphins were down big early to the Pats, but made a comeback after Jimmy Garoppolo went down with an injury.  Cleveland will be in this game until the end because Miami has had issues stopping the run early.  But even of Isaiah Crowell goes big on the ground, I still think they pull out the win at home. MIAMI WINS
  • Vikings @ Panthers: Minnesota will now be without their starting QB and running back for the rest of the season after Adrian Peterson went down in their game on Sunday night. The Vikings defense looked stong against Aaron Rogers in week 2. As for Carolina, they rebounded offensively in week 2, but they still struggled a bit on defense, allowing the Niners to score 27.  They’ll be without their running back Jonathan Stewart, but were picked up by Fozzy Whittaker on the ground.  Despite the 27 points allowed, I like the Panthers chances of stopping Sam Bradford and the new Vikings weapon and league receiving yards leader Stefon Diggs. CAROLINA WINS
  • Broncos @ Bengals: Andy Dalton has gotten off to a nice start this season, leading the league with 732 passing yards, so here’s a good test for the Broncos league leading defense.  CJ Anderson is having a good start to the season, and we’ve seen the Bengals give up the most rushing yards per game to start the season, so he should be able to help eat a lot of clock for Denver. DENVER WINS
  • Cardinals @ Bills: Arizona rebounded from a tough week 1 loss by handily beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Cardinals led the league in total offense, while the Bills dropped to 0-2 despite putting up 31 points of their own in week 2. Buffalo has let their offensive coordinator go, so they really need this game.  Too bad I don’t think they’ll get it.  Look for a big game from running back Daniel Johnson. ARIZONA WINS
  • Raiders @ Titans: Oakland has not been able to stop anyone through two weeks, something I wasn’t expecting, allowing 70 points so far.  Tennessee has actually done a very nice job on defense.  Both teams are 1-1 heading into this game, but I still like the Raiders better.  The Titans offense hasn’t shown the big play ability the Raiders have, so Oakland should be able to hold them down better than they did with New Orleans and Atlanta. OAKLAND WINS

Sunday 4/425pm Games

  • Rams @ Buccaneers: LA’s defense showed up in week 2, Tampa’s did not.  The difference between these two teams is the offense.  While the Bucs went from scoring 4 TDs to 1, I feel more confident about their offense than the Rams, who have scored just 9 points in two games.  The best chance the Rams have is if their defense can do what it did a week ago, and good game out of Todd Gurley. That being said, I’ll take the home team in this one. TAMPA BAY WINS
  • 49ers @ Seahawks: This is a big (albeit early) NFC West battle between two 1-1 teams.  San Francisco followed up a surprise week 1 win with a defensive breakdown against Carolina.  Seattle had one of their worst offensive games in this recent stretch of Superbowl quality teams, scoring just a field goal against the L.A. Rams. I can’t see the Seahawks being held down again, especially by the Niners.  Russell Wilson should be able to dominate in this one. SEATTLE WINS
  • Steelers @ Eagles:  I never thought this would be a game where both teams have a chance to move to 3-0, but here we are.  DeAngelo Williams has been huge for Pittsbrgh in the abscense of Le’Veon Bell, who is out one more week due to suspension. Philadelphia has gotten about as good as you can ever hope to from a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz, who hasn’t turned the ball over yet. It should be a good game, but I will go with the experience in this one. PITTSBURGH WINS
  • Jets @ Chiefs: Two teams I picked to make the playoffs in the AFC face off in Kansas City this weekend.  New York picked up their first win last week, thanks to the offense.  Off-season acquisition Matt Forte finished with 100 yards rushing, and three rushing touchdowns. Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall both finished with 100 receiving yards as well.  The Jets defense wasn’t as impressive as it was week 1.  The Chiefs hope that’s the case again this week, as they couldn’t get much of anything started against Houston. A lot went right for New York last week, and I can’t see them doing quite that well against Kansas City’s defense as they did against Buffalo.  If this were a home game for the Jets I might choose differently, but it’s a home game for the Chiefs, so I’ll go with them this week.  KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Chargers @ Colts: San Diego is 2-0, Indianapolis is 0-2.  I really thought that the Colts would be able to do better than they have on defense, but they haven’t. San Diego has looked very good on offense to start this season, Indy has been very up and down. INDIANAPOLIS WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Bears @ Cowboys: Chicago is 0-2 despite holding early leads in both week 1 and week 2.  And now they’ll be without starting quarterback Jay Cutler due to a thumb injury.   Their best hope to beat the Cowboys is to continue limiting the passing game, as the Bears rank 4th in the NFL allowing 224 yards a game.   As for Dallas, they picked up their first win thanks to another clean day from Dak Prescott and a big night on the ground. The Boys were already a better team than the Bears before the Cutler injury, so give me Dallas at home to move to 2-1. DALLAS WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Falcons @ Saints: Atlanta picked up their first win against an impressive Raiders team in week 2, while New Orleans dropped to 0-2 after a game winning field goal by the Giants.  Atlanta hasn’t had any problems scoring this season, but their defense has struggled at times.  New Orleans’ defense was much better in week 2, forcing 3 turnovers, but it wasn’t enough.  I picked the Saints to make the playoffs, so this is a huge game for them.  If they want to get their first win, they have to figure out how to run the ball.  The Falcons tend to be very inconsistent, so give me New Orleans at home in a shootout. NEW ORLEANS WINS

New York Yankees: May in Review

IMGP3381What is this 2013?

It feels like another Yankee is placed on the disabled list every day. New additions this month included Shawn Kelley, Carlos Beltran and CC Sabathia. These are names this team can go very long without.  Kelley hit the shelf with a strained lumbar spine (back tightness).  Just when he was looking ready to come back, the tightness resurfaced to make it more than a 15-day loss.  Sabathia hasn’t looked good all year, and has been diagnosed with degenerative knees. He’ll be out until at least July because of it.  Beltran was given 2 weeks to work out discomfort from a bone spur on his elbow.  At the end of those 2 weeks, season ending surgery could be necessary.

After the injuries to key players, there is real concern with the lack of power in this offense.  Tex, Beltran and Alfonso Soriano are the only real power threats, but Soriano has been in a season long slump and of course Tex and Beltran have missed significant time.  And without the power, you need guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to get on base and make things happen. When they get on, they usually steal.  But after the final week of the month, Ellsbury’s hot April had turned into a big time slump.  A nice surprise has been the hitting of Yangervis Solarte, but even he has hit a skid, something we all saw coming for the 26-year-old rookie.  Brian McCann needs to start hitting for this team.  His adjustment time is over.  Two months are enough for the all-star catcher.  Interestingly enough, Ichiro Suzuki is hitting at the clip of how his career has gone, over .300.  This is a guy that was supposed to be a 4th outfielder, pinch runner.  But injuries have created situations for the sure-fire Hall-of-Famer and he’s doing his best to help in the field, at the plate and on the base paths.

It was a very up-and-down month for the bombers.  They showed something winning 2-0f-3 on the road against the great pitching staff of the St. Louis Cardinals.  But they were also held to less than 2 runs 8 times (1 win).  To be fair, they only lost 2 of the 9 series (3 splits).

Best Starter: Masahiro Tanaka – He takes the award again, and not by default.  The MLB rookie continues to dominate.  He dropped his first game (and it wasn’t a horrible start) and bounced back with two huge performances to move his record to a stellar 8-1 before June.  His ability to go deep on top of his great pitching has helped stopped long losing streaks, and solidified a less than perfect rotation.

Best Reliever: Dellin BetancesSo this guy has found it big time.  All he does is come in and shut people down for 1-2 innings a la Mariano Rivera in 1996.  He’s struck out a ridiculous 56 batters to just 9 walks in nearly 33 innings of work.  And he’s also electrified the Yankee Stadium crowd much like Joba Chamberlain did when he first made it with the big club.  If the 26-year-old is on the mound, you’re not leaving your seat.

Best Hitter: Mark Teixeira – Early in the month we were all thinking that the wrist was healed and Tex was primed.   The power was back.  He was playing basically everyday. But unfortunately as the month ran down, the wrist became an issue.  Inflammation meant missing a few games at the end of the month, and a trip to the surgeon.  He was told it was okay, and returned after missing 3 straight games.  But in the 6th inning of the game, Teixeira left and is now back to “square one” with the injury. (UPDATE: Teix did make his return on June 3rd against the Athletics.  He drove in 2 runs, including a go-ahead solo homer batting right-handed.  The issue has been when batting left-handed.)

Biggest Surprise: Chase Whitley.  Who? The rookie is a huge reason why the Yankees are still hanging around the top of the American League Division.  The 25-year-old righty doesn’t have a win in 4 starts, but he should.  His last two performances were worthy of the W, but the pen and offense didn’t help him, leaving him with an 0-0 record and a 2.37 ERA. (Honorable Mention: John Ryan Murphy – the young backstop made us all expand on the J.R. and he started hitting.  He doesn’t play often backing up the All-Star McCann, but when he does, boy oh boy is he hitting!  In limited action, Murphy is hitting a scorching .348.)

Record vs AL East: 11-9

Overall Record: 29-26 (2nd in the East)

It took a big month from the Toronto Blue Jays and Edwin Encarnacion (16 homers last month), and .500 record to bump the Yankees from 1st to 2nd after May, but considering all the injuries and inconsistency, you’ve gotta be happy to be over .500 for the season.

 

MLB Postseason Predictions – ALDS

Two easy wins got the playoffs started last night.

NLDS Update:

  • The Cardinals lead the Pirates 1-0
  • The Dodgers lead the Braves 1-0

Now its time for the American League to open up play, as well as game 2 for each NLDS in today’s full slate of games.

 

In the first ALDS, familiar AL East foes face-off.

Tampa Bay Rays @ Boston Red Sox 

  • Matt Moore (17-9, 3.29 ERA) vs Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA)

There are no secrets between these two division rivals, having played 19 games against each other in the regular season.  It’s a battle of southpaws who had very good seasons.   The Rays have two guys in Evan Longoria and Delmon Young who like hitting home runs in the postseason, while Boston had the best record in the league and know how to win in October.  Both teams have been to the World Series in the past 6 years, so this should be a fun series.  The Sox just hit .208 as a team against Tampa this year.

I like both starting rotations here, so I think it comes down to a battle of the bullpens.  In terms of closers, Koji Uehara was lights out to end the season for the Sox, and hasn’t allowed a run to Tampa in his last 16 innings.  While Rays closer Fernando Rodney is known to make you sweat.  Give me the AL East champs in a long, hard-fought series.

RED SOX IN 5 

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In tonight’s second ALDS, it’s a battle of division winners.

Detroit Tigers @ Oakland Athletics

  • Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA) vs Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65 ERA)

This is an intriguing game 1 match-up in today’s playoff night-cap.  You’ve got Scherzer, who’ll probably win the AL Cy Young, going against Colon, a 40-year-old former Cy Young winner.  Scherzer was huge for Detroit this year, especially early when their former Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander got off to a rare slow start.  Colon has revitalized his career in Oakland, and was great all year.

The Tigers were the AL representatives in the World Series last year, while the A’s are making their second straight postseason appearance after sneaking in last year.  Detroit has more pop in its lineup, with a combo of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.  But don’t be surprised when Oakland’s bullpen carries them to the next round. I have much more faith late in games in the A’s than I do Detroit.

ATHLETICS IN 5

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Today’s postseason action gets started in the NL at 1PM.

Pittsburgh Pirates @ St. Louis Cardinals

  • Gerrit Cole (10-7, 3.22 ERA) vs Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA)

The Pirates look to bounce back from a 9-1 pummeling last night, while the Cards look to take a 2-0 lead before heading on the road to Pittsburgh.

As a I posted yesterday, I have CARDINALS IN 4

 

And finally, game 2 in Atlanta tonight.

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves

  • Zach Greinke (15-4, 2.63 ERA) vs Mike Minor (13-9, 3.21 ERA)

The Dodgers made easy work of the NL East champs last night, and now send their other Ace to the hill looking to take a 2-0 lead back home.

Again, as posted yesterday, I have the DODGERS IN 4

Enjoy the full slate of Postseason action today.

Sweep Revenge, Bring on the Red Sox

After a crushing sweep in Chicago last month, the Yankees get revenge in the Bronx, but it wasn’t easy.

CC Sabathia would surrender a first inning run, but Robinson Cano would answer with a solo homer in the bottom half.  The score held at 1-1 until the home half of the fourth, when the Yankees put up another crooked number. With two on and no outs, Lyle Overbay broke the tie with an RBI double to right.  It was Overbay’s 12th go-ahead run-batted-in of the season, which leads the team.  Brett Gardner than smcked a 2-run triple, topped off by a two out RBI single by Cano, who finished the night 3-4.

Sabathia threw up zeros the next three innings, and Alfonso Soriano’s 7th inning Sac Fly looked like a tack on run. That’s until David Robertson came in with one out in the 8th, with two runners on in relief of Sabathia.  D-Rob has been great all year, but his Houdini ways didn’t work out tonight.  He allowed both inherited runners to score, along with two of his own, making a 6-1 lead turn into a nail biter.

With two on and two out, Joe Girardi was forced to bring Mariano Rivera in for a four out save opportunity, his first since July 2011.  The Sandman got to a 3-2 count on Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza, when he went paint at the knees on the outside corner.  De Aza didn’t like the call, but it ended the inning, and got the Yankees out of a sticky situation.

Sabathia gave up 3 runs over 7 1/3, picking up his 13th win of the year.  It was a one of his better starts of the year, and the bombers need more of this over final 20-odd games of the season

Now 5-1 on their current 10-game homestand, next up are four with the AL East leading Red Sox.  The AL’s Pitcher of the Month in August, Ivan Nova takes the hill in the opener.  Nova went 4-0 last month.

**** Baltimore lost again, giving the Yankees a 1.5 game cushion over their division mates.  Oakland won earlier in the day, tying for the West again with the Rangers.  The Rays are out on the west coast.

A Big Comeback Makes a Big Difference

Every win is big, but Tuesday’s come-from-behind 6-4 victory was huge.

Hiroki Kuroda was looking to bounce back from three straight sub-par outings and secure the series win over the Chicago White Sox. After allowing a run in the first, Kuroda settled down until the 5th. He allowed two more in the frame, putting the bombers down 3-1 nothing. Kuroda went 6 1/3 innings, giving up all 4 runs, while striking out 7 along the way. It was a step in the right direction for the Yankees best pitcher the first 4 months of the season.

Sox starter and CY Young candidate Chris Sale didn’t make things easy on the bombers, allowing just 1 run over his first 7 innings. Sale went back out for the eighth, and things changed. He recorded one out but was taken out with 1 out and runners on 2nd and 3rd. The bullpen didn’t do its job.

Alfonso Soriano singled in two off Sox reliever Nate Jones, then Curtis Granderson singled to tie the game at 4-4. After Mark Reynolds struck out and Chicago made another pitching change, Eduardo Nunez came to bat with two on and two out. And he wouldn’t disappoint, delivering the go-ahead two-run double scoring Granderson and Alex Rodriguez.

Mariano Rivera came in to shut the door, and needing just 13 pitches to do so. It was Rivera’s 40th of the season.

Every team in front of the Yankees lost on Tuesday meaning they were able to once again leapfrog the Orioles, putting them in third place in both the AL East and Wild Card chase. They also gained a game on both the Athletics and Rays who hold the two Wild Card spots (Texas is tied with Oakland after beating them), putting them just 2.5 games back.

With just 25 games remaining in the regular season, the Yankees now look to complete the sweep of the pale sox and get CC Sabathia back on track for the home stretch.

*** other news and notes

Another milestone for the captain Derek Jeter, who passed Eddie Collins for sole possession of 9th place on baseball’s all-time hits list. The Captain has been been slumping of late, but picked up two hits, giving him 3,315 in his career.

Phil Hughes is a starter no more. Manager Joe Girardi announced that Hughes and his 4-13 record are finally moving to the pen. Hughes was a huge part of the Yankees pen run to the 2009 Championship. Taking his place in the rotation will be David Huff, who has picked up two wins since being called in up long relief.

Reliever Preston Claiborne was recalled from Triple-A.