With a chance to sweep Royals, Yankees have five signs of hope

NEW YORK -- No matter how bad the New York Yankees have looked at times this season, they probably are going to contend until the end in the AL East. For one, as you know, the East is awful, featuring five teams with flaws.

Fresh off a six-game losing streak and 10-out-of-11 losing slump, the Yankees are just two games over .500, but still fighting the Tampa Bay Rays for first place.

The Yankees are also on the verge of sweeping the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday afternoon with a juicy pitching matchup of Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.59) facing Chris Young (4-0, 0.78) scheduled to begin a little after 1 p.m. ET.

Just as quickly as the season was being declared over, the Yankees, with a couple of wins over one of baseball's best teams, are looking good again.

Continuing with the glass-half-full theme, consider these five signs of hope for the Yankees.

1. Adam Warren, pitching with a better slider than we've seen, threw tremendously, going 6 1/3 innings, only allowing a run on two hits, striking out five and -- very important for a guy with good, but not great, stuff -- not walking anyone.

While Joe Girardi wouldn't touch questions about Warren's future in the Yankees' rotation, Warren is making a strong case that he should stay in it. Masahiro Tanaka is pitching a rehab start on Wednesday afternoon, while Ivan Nova could be back next month, meaning the Yankees could have to make some choices.

Warren is outpitching Chris Capuano and CC Sabathia at the moment. While Sabathia probably stays in the rotation, the Yankees could choose Warren over Capuano, even though Warren is more experienced in the pen and wasn't signed for $5 million this winter.

2. Mark Teixeira's wrist is fully healed. He had another big game, hitting a team-leading 14th homer and driving in four runs. Teixeira entered the season very confident because he felt healthy again. He is a serious threat at the plate.

3. Carlos Beltran is hitting the ball hard consistently. Beltran extended his hit streak to 14 games with a single and just missed a home run when Lorenzo Cain robbed him of an extra-base hit. Beltran, sick the last two games, was taken out in the sixth because Girardi wants to keep him fresh for Wednesday. (Plus, Slade Heathcott is a better fielder at this point and the Yankees were up 5-0 at the time.)

4. Alex Rodriguez continues to hit. Rodriguez is 8-for-18 (.444) in his last five games. He had two singles on Tuesday, raising his overall average to .270.

5. Dellin Betances is ridiculously good. He struck out the side in the eight. He has not allowed a run in 25 innings this season, while striking out 38. He has not allowed a hit in opponents' last 31 plate appearances. He has struck out 27 of his last 54 batters. It is unfair.

So for a day, the Yankees can stop thinking about how Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius can't hit and Chase Headley -- who had another error Tuesday, his 10th of the season -- can't field.

The Yankees are fortunate that they play in baseball's worst division but, to their credit, they do have some things going for them that makes you think they will, at least, be in it until October.