NEW YORK — Gleyber Torres doubled home Joey Gallo for the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning, Gary Sánchez followed with a two-run homer and the New York Yankees rallied past the Texas Rangers 7-3 Wednesday night for a three-game sweep heading into a divisional gauntlet that will decide their postseason fate.
New York made two errors, allowed two stolen bases, had a baserunner sprint through a stop sign but score easily and another thrown out at home plate.
Hardly textbook, but enough against the last-place Rangers. It’s about to get significantly tougher.
The Yankees’ wild-card chase takes them to Fenway Park for three games starting Friday night followed by three at Toronto and a season-ending three-game homestand against Tampa Bay.
New York is half a game ahead of Toronto for the second and final AL wild card after the Blue Jays lost a matinee to Tampa Bay, which clinched a postseason spot with the victory. Boston was two games ahead of the Yankees when the Red Sox began play Wednesday and cruising toward a blowout win against the Mets.
The Yankees won their third straight following a 7-15 slump. They scored four runs with two outs in the eighth inning after Gallo reached vs. his former team when his popup off Spencer Patton (1-2) dropped in deserted left field against the shifted Rangers.
Torres followed with a liner into the right-field corner for a 4-3 lead, then scored from second when second baseman Yonny Hernandez bobbled Gio Urshela’s grounder. Torres dived for the corner of the plate and just eluded Jose Trevino’s tag. The safe call was upheld by a replay review.
Sánchez, a substitute on defence in the top of the inning, connected for his 23rd homer to dead-centre for a four-run cushion.
Chad Green (9-7) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Aroldis Chapman cruised through the ninth in a non-save situation.
Rangers starter Taylor Hearn held the Yankees in check until walking consecutive batters with one out in the sixth. Dennis Santana relieved, walked Gallo to load the bases and threw a wild pitch to let a runner score and tie it at 3 before getting out of the inning with consecutive strikeouts of Torres and Urshela.
Texas chipped away against starter Corey Kluber with eight hits — including six singles — and three runs over 4 1/3 innings. The 35-year-old struck out four and threw 84 pitches. Texas stole two bases against Kluber and also beat out consecutive potential double-play grounders in the second that stretched his pitch count.
Kyle Higashioka cut New York’s deficit to 3-2 with a two-run double in the fifth, with Urshela scoring from first without a throw home after running through third base coach Phil Nevin’s stop sign. Nevin flashed Urshela a thumbs-up after.
Rangers right fielder Adolis García threw Higashioka out at home for the last out of the inning when Higashioka tried to score from third on DJ LeMahieu’s fly ball. García’s throw clocked at 95.5 m.p.h. and was the 14th assist this season by the AL Rookie of the Year favorite.
It was the major league-most 21st out made at home plate by the Yankees this year.
Hearn was charged with three runs, four hits and four walks, striking out three. Texas has lost six straight against New York this season and with 97 losses is headed to its worst record since 1985.
THE WAR TO COME
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole will start Friday at Fenway Park. The right-hander said he was drawing inspiration in the homestretch from a story he had been told recently about ancient warriors honing their warfare skills against elite fighters from neighboring cities to stay sharp.
“If they weren’t practising against the best that they could find, they may be surprised if a formidable army came out of somewhere and they hadn’t been practicing against elite opponents,” he said. “So maybe that’s similar to this situation, where we’ve been playing against a lot of elite opponents.
“Sure we’ve lost some of the battles, but we still have the war ahead of us,” he added.
Yankees: RHP Domingo Germán (right shoulder inflammation) was activated from the 10-day injured list and available out of the bullpen. … OF Aaron Judge was New York’s designated hitter for a second straight game, and manager Aaron Boone said the slugger was a little banged up. Judge downplayed the discomfort, saying it’s normal wear and tear near the end of a season.
Yankees: Cole (15-8, 3.03) will face Red Sox RHP Nathan Eovaldi (10-8, 3.58) in a showdown of pitchers likely to receive AL Cy Young Award consideration.
Rangers: Travel to Baltimore for a four-game set that starts Thursday. Texas RHP Glenn Otto (0-2, 9.37) is set for his fifth big league start. The Orioles hadn’t announced a starter.