Three stars for Yankees against Astros

Series started slow and finished strong, but these guys did their part all along
08/21/2014 4:52 PM ET
By staff
The end result of their three-game series with Houston might not have been what the Yankees desired, but several Bombers played well all week and Thursday's win not only ended the series on a high note, but also pushed the pinstripers back to within four games of a playoff berth.

Here are the Yanks' individual winners from the series that marked Derek Jeter's last look at the Astros:

Brandon McCarthy: 9 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 8 K, 107 pitches, 1 very big W

McCarthy has been a revelation as a Yankee, and Thursday was his magnum opus. The righty held the 'Stros to just four baserunners in a complete-game shutout, bringing the Yankees' starting line to 9-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 20 home games since the All-Star break, and he even helped himself with a kick save and a beauty to escape a fourth-inning jam. We wonder if he'll have anything to say about it on that epic Twitter account of his.

Michael Pineda: 6 IP (plus one batter), 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K

Folks have been saying for four months how big of a boost a healthy Pineda could be to the Yankees' rotation down the stretch, and the righty proved them right in his second start off the disabled list. Pineda started Wednesday's game by retiring the first nine batters he faced, escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth, and was only tagged with two runs after two relievers parlayed his leadoff walk of Jason Castro in the seventh into a big inning for the Astros. Pineda took a no-decision, but Joe Girardi was pleased with what he got from his hurler.

Jacoby Ellsbury: 6-for-13 (.462), 1 RBI, 1 R, 3 SB

Entering the series, Ellsbury was just 12-for-57 (.211) with three steals in August, so it was a plus for everyone to see the center fielder break out by reaching in nearly half of his plate appearances and improving his monthly total of bags swiped by 50 percent as well. He could have had an even bigger week if a couple breaks went his way, but Ellsbury gave the Bombers plenty to crow about otherwise.

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