Yankees are living on the edge

Life as a Yankee must feel often like occupying a mansion perched on the edge of a cliff: You get every amenity you could possibly want, and you’re never far from serious trouble — or at least the appearance of it.

Hence the good cheer that pervaded the Yankee Stadium home clubhouse Tuesday night, after the Yankees avoided another dizzying dangle with a come-from-behind, walk-off, 5-4 victory.

When pinch-hitter Neil Walker launched a first-pitch Dylan Covey fastball over the right-field wall with one out in the ninth inning, the Yankees prevented a two-game losing streak, maintained control of their American League East destiny and canceled the temporary hot seat for Greg Bird, Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman, among others. So many wins feel so big in this pressurized environment, and count this as one of those.

“It’s not easy for us right now,” Boone said afterward. “We’re kind of grinding through some things. It’s a tough stretch. But these guys continue to find a way.”

In one sense, it is easy for the Yankees right now. They’re now 16-6 in their Summer Siesta, with five more games against underwhelming foes before they head West to take on their current playoff foe, the A’s.

Yet Boone’s description tied into the Yankees’ thinned-out lineup, by virtue of injuries to Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, and a schedule that clearly took something out of them as their four-game weekend sweep of the Orioles included a day-night doubleheader Saturday and a Sunday night game. Those preceded the Yankees’ 6-2 loss to the White Sox on Monday night, after which Boone uncharacteristically described his guys’ play as “sluggish and crappy.”

When the low quality of play carried over into Tuesday, you started envisioning a short film to describe this stretch: “Extremely Sluggish & Incredibly Crappy.” The crowd un-favorite Bird, making his first start since Saturday’s Game 2, managed to drop Ronald Torreyes’ relay off an easy grounder from the contest’s first batter, Yolmer Sanchez. AL Rookie of the Year candidate Miguel Andujar committed his 14th error in the third inning. And the White Sox owned a 4-0 lead by the top of the sixth, at which point the Yankees had a single hit off old-timer James Shields.

“We’ve played a lot of baseball the last four weeks. There’s no getting around that,” Walker said. “… We’re tired.”

“I think any time we’ve got one hit going into the sixth or seventh inning, the fans are a little fed up with this, and there’s obviously not a whole lot of excitement,” Brett Gardner said.

Gardner started to change that by leading off the sixth with a triple, and after Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks elevated the panic with a pair of pop outs, Andujar bolstered his candidacy with a two-run homer off Shields. Hicks tied the game in the eighth with a two-run blast of his own, which led to a sense of “big relief” in the dugout, Gardner said.

Walker’s game-winner removed the onus from Bird, who went 0-for-4 and stranded four teammates on the bases, although three of his outs were hard-hit. It negated the questions about how Boone, his eternal patience often testing the patience of his team’s fan base, would cope with a second straight dud. It alleviated the anxiety over whether Cashman, the general manager, could find another bat in time for Friday night’s deadline to qualify for a postseason roster.

And it kept the Yankees (84-48) 6 ¹/₂ games — six in the loss column — behind the Red Sox (91-42), who outlasted the terrible Marlins at Fenway Park.

“It’s never too late with this team,” Gardner said. “Even when we’re missing some of our guys from the middle of the lineup, guys are stepping up and finding ways to win and that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter how you win. All that matters is that you win.”

The mansion stays upright for another day. Nevertheless, the Yankees know that cliff is never far away.

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