MLB

White Sox-Yankees Preview

If the New York Yankees' offense continues sputtering the way it has over the last six games, it won't be anything new for Luis Severino.

The next chance to break out comes Sunday at home in the series finale against the Chicago White Sox with time running out on their AL East title hopes.

The Yankees (85-69) have taken two of the first three in this set after Saturday's 2-1 victory, but Toronto and Houston also won, so they remain four games behind the Blue Jays in the division with eight to play. New York is 4 1/2 ahead of the Astros for the top wild card, so a celebration probably isn't far off.

"I'm excited to celebrate and taste some of the champagne," said Dellin Betances, whose bullpen crew has an AL-record 573 strikeouts. That's two more than the previous mark set by New York last year and 16 shy of Colorado's big league record established in 2012.

The Yankees have alternated wins and losses for six games while averaging 2.5 runs and hitting .223. Alex Rodriguez is batting .115 in his last 10 and Brett Gardner .116 in his last 13.

Nevertheless, they assured themselves at least a split with the White Sox and haven't allowed Chicago to win a series in the Bronx since its 2005 World Series season, going 25-8 since with victories in 10 of 11.

Severino (4-3, 3.10 ERA), who has allowed at least three runs twice in his first nine big league starts, isn't getting the run support he deserves with a 2.92 RSA while New York's starters overall have a 5.07 mark - third best in baseball behind Toronto and Texas. When given at least two runs of support, the right-hander is 4-0 in five outings.

The one time he didn't earn the decision was Tuesday's 6-4 win in 10 innings at Toronto after giving up two runs and three hits with three walks in six innings.

If there's a complaint with the 21-year-old, it's probably his control. After issuing one free pass in 11 innings over his first two starts, he's posted 4.70 walks per nine innings in his last seven outings.

He's up against International League Most Valuable Pitcher Erik Johnson, whose RSA is nearly three times that of Severino at 7.83 in his four starts since being recalled from Triple-A Charlotte on Sept. 1.

Johnson (3-0, 3.52), though, was plenty deserving of the decision in Monday's 3-2 win at Detroit after limiting the Tigers to two runs and five hits with a career high-matching nine strikeouts in six innings.

"I felt good. It was a good first inning to put the right foot forward, and I thought I was very aggressive in the zone with fastball, slider, change," Johnson told MLB's official website. "I gave up a few hits. Sometimes the aggressiveness, you're going to run into some hits here and there."

The right-hander has allowed six home runs with at least one in each start, and he's walked 10 over 17 innings in his last three. He faced the Yankees for the only time in 2013 and took the loss with Gardner going 2 for 4 with a triple.

The White Sox (73-82), who were officially eliminated from postseason contention, have also been stagnant with 2.5 runs per game and a .203 average over a 4-7 span. They're in danger of falling 10 games under .500 for the first time since being 32-42 on June 29.

Despite seven straight seasons without playoff baseball, Chicago remains optimistic.

"I don't like to see this like something bad," Jose Abreu said through a translator. "This is something good for the future, and that's the way that I want to see."

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