Wilson, Betances, Miller perfect as Yanks edge White Sox 2-1
NEW YORK (AP) As the New York Yankees close in on their first clinching celebration in three years, they know the back end of their bullpen gives them a chance to go deep into October.
Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each pitched a perfect inning to preserve the lead Adam Warren handed over and complete a three-hitter in Saturday's 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
''Today's game is the recipe, minus the home run,'' Alex Rodriguez said.
Chase Headley and A-Rod hit consecutive RBI doubles off John Danks in the sixth inning. Jose Abreu had driven in Chicago's run with one of three singles in the first off Warren (7-7), who didn't allow another hit and won for the first time since July 25.
Closing in on its first postseason berth since 2012, New York (85-69) surpassed last year's wins total, stayed four games behind AL East-leading Toronto (89-65) with eight games remaining and maintained a 4 1/2-game lead over Houston for the top AL wild card.
''I'm excited to celebrate and taste some of the champagne,'' Betances said.
With the Yankees likely headed to a one-game wild-card playoff, manager Joe Girardi hopes his players will celebrate when they clinch.
''It's an accomplishment,'' he said.
Still, it's not what the Yankees envisioned when they led the division by seven games before play on July 29. This would mark the first time New York failed to finish first in a season in which it led by more than six games.
Yankees relievers have struck out an AL-record 573 batters, two more than the previous mark for bullpens set by New York last year and 16 shy of the big league record established by Colorado in 2012. Wilson and Miller each fanned two.
''If I go out there and have a clean seventh, Dellin wants to do something better than I did, and the same for Andrew. We feed off each other, and it's kind of like a brotherhood,'' Wilson said. ''With Dellin behind me and Andrew behind him, of course it breeds confidence.''
Shaking off second-half control and command issues, Betances has a 1.36 ERA. Miller, who got his 36th save in 38 chances, is at 1.97.
''It's just mentality,'' Betances said. ''I was getting behind, in certain counts, and I didn't want to make a mistakes, especially with guys on. I didn't want to give up the lead any time I was in. Today I was just being aggressive in the zone.''
Wilson has thrown seven 1-2-3 innings, while Miller has 23 and Betances 24, according to STATS.
''There's no way that we have this opportunity without those three guys,'' Girardi said.
Warren retired 11 consecutive batters before walking the bases loaded in the fifth, then got out of the jam by striking out Abreu. He lasted six innings and 88 pitches in his third outing since returning to the rotation. He has a 6.88 ERA in the first inning of his 17 starts along with a .357 opponents' batting average, but a 2.96 ERA and .218 average after.
Danks (7-14) held the Yankees to three singles until the sixth, when Jacoby Ellsbury singled leading off and stole second. Headley doubled on a hop into the White Sox bullpen in left-center, and Rodriguez doubled when he hit a hard two-hop bouncer off the glove of third baseman Mike Olt, who tried for a backhand snare. The ball bounced into the seats as Headley scored for a 2-1 lead.
''It had a lot of topspin, and it just ate up the third baseman,'' Rodriguez said.
A-Rod, who turns 40 in July, also swiped his fourth base this season.
''One for the old guy,'' he said. ''Every once in a while, the slowest man in baseball sneaks in a stolen base.''
Chicago was mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.
At 9,998-7,564 since starting play in New York in 1903, the Yankees are on the verge of becoming the first AL team with 10,000 regular-season wins.
White Sox: DH Adam LaRoche was 0 for 4 after being given Friday off. LaRoche, who has a sore right knee, didn't play between Sept. 13 and Thursday's series opener.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka's strained right hamstring felt better, and Girardi is ''pretty confident'' Tanaka will pitch before the end of the regular season. ... RHP Nathan Eovaldi, sidelined since Sept. 5 by right elbow inflammation, started playing catch Friday.
Luis Severino (4-3) starts for the Yankees in Sunday's series finale, and Erik Johnson (3-0) opens for the White Sox.