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Betances, Yanks trying to find spirit of '96

NEW YORK --- Dellin Betances was an 8-year-old in 1996, just becoming a Yankees fan. Growing up in New York, Betances became a Bleacher Creature and even was in the stands for David Wells' perfect game. So on Saturday, as he watched Joe Torre's No. 6 being retired, it was special for him.

"I got goose bumps," said Betances, who recorded an important out in the seventh inning Saturday as the Yankees won their third straight, 5-3, over the White Sox.

This Yankees team is not reminding anyone of the 1996 squad, but the Bombers are still trying to find a way to sneak into the playoffs and put a bow on Derek Jeter's final season. They scored more than four runs for the first time in more than two weeks (Aug. 8 in Cleveland). But it was all done against a terrible White Sox club.

On Sunday, the White Sox won't be as bad because they have perhaps baseball's best starter going in Chris Sale (10-3, 2.12 ERA), a lefty who has allowed the Yankees just 10 hits in 115 at-bats.

"We have a tough opponent," Joe Girardi said. "We know that."

It is a chance to show that the Yankees should be taken a little seriously in the race for the second AL wild card. They are 3½ games behind Robinson Cano's Seattle Mariners.

After Sunday, the Yankees go to Kansas City to face the red-hot Royals and then to Detroit to play the fading Tigers before finishing the trip in Toronto, with whom they are neck-and-neck.

So if this Yankees team is going to have any kind of run, the next week is crucial. The Yankees can't be 4-4 the next eight games. They need a 6-2 or 7-1 run. Is it in them? It is a bit hard to imagine, but it could start with beating Sale on Sunday.

This Yankees team has some things going for it, beginning with Betances and David Robertson. Robertson converted his 22nd consecutive save, which is the longest active streak in the majors. If he is good on his next try, he will tie Huston Street for the best in baseball this year.

Somehow, someway, the starting pitching continues to hang on. Hiroki Kuroda threw a solid six innings of two-run ball against the bad White Sox lineup.

But it is the Yankees' offense that must come alive. Saturday, Martin Prado continued to swing a hot bat, with three more hits, including a couple of doubles. He picked up two RBIs and scored a run. He is 18-for-45 in his past 11 games. Meanwhile, Carlos Beltran returned with a homer.

All hope is not lost. The Yankees have the next week or so to find out if they have a shot going into September. For Betances, seeing Torre and the stars of the dynasty all together got his juices flowing.

"Seeing some of the highlights of them winning the championships, it makes me want to work harder, push myself to the end to have the opportunity to win one," Betances said. "For us, right now, the key is trying to make the playoffs. That's what every player wants. We fight for a World Series."