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Yankees 6, Mariners 4: So that’s what winning a series feels like

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Home runs and great bullpen work add up to a solid Sunday victory.

MLB: New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees were guaranteed a series split against Seattle by winning the first two games on Thursday and Friday. Normally, splitting a four-game set on the road is a good run in my books, but after keeping pace with Boston last week, and disappointing against the Twins, this felt like a series the Yankees really needed.

They didn’t disappoint, rallying after a poor end to Caleb Smith’s first MLB start to win the series and secure a winning road trip.

Brett Gardner got the game going with a leadoff home run, one of three solo shots off starter Yovani Gallardo. Didi Gregorius had the other two, and it looked like the Yankees would have an easy day. They didn’t.

I’d love to know the front office’s opinion of Caleb Smith. The rookie had a nearly-identical outing to his MLB debut Monday: he tore through the order once, and fell into trouble the second time through. Today, he worked through the first three innings throwing just 32 pitches, and giving up single hit. Impressive, right?

The fourth inning is where it all fell apart for Caleb, as he walked the bases loaded with nobody out, and retired the next two batters, giving us all a tease that he might tightrope out of it. He did not. A Ben Gamel single and Guillermo Heredia double cashed in four runs, putting the Mariners up by one. All told, Smith didn’t make it through four. Chad Green came in to stop the bleeding, and went above and beyond that, sitting down all seven batters he faced. We’ll come back to this in a minute.

The Yankees came clawing back, however, loading the bases themselves on the strength of some walks and another Ronald Torreyes pinch hit single. Gardner’s second hit of the day cashed in one before the red-hot Clint Frazier drove in a pair with a double, and the Yankees were up 6-4.

One of the popular questions following the trade with the White Sox was how Joe Girardi was going to use his new relief weapons. Today, with just Tommy Kahnle unavailable, we saw the full power of the new ‘pen, as Green, Dellin Betances and David Robertson combined to set down 13 straight batters with five strikeouts. Aroldis Chapman had a little bit of trouble in the ninth, giving up two hard hits including a double, but he too managed to avoid surrendering any runs.

The Yankees head into a needed off day tomorrow after going 6-5 on their road trip through three playoff hopeful cities. If nothing else, they’ve shown they’re going to hang with it all year, while also passing the Rays in the wild card standings. They’ll resume play against the Reds Tuesday 2.5 games back of Boston for the division lead.