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Veterans stepping up to keep Yankees rolling

Special to MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' season was supposed to be all about Gary Sanchez and the youth movement. The club's strong start, however, has to be attributed to the performances of the veteran holdovers.

With Sanchez sidelined with a right biceps strain and Greg Bird mired in a slump, the Yanks were able to ride into Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals at Yankee Stadium on a six-game win streak. Familiar names have mostly been the top performers. CC Sabathia is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA. Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley were hitting over .300 entering Sunday. Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren -- the relievers charged with closing games out -- had a combined 1.25 ERA. And with five steals from Ellsbury, four from Brett Gardner and three from Headley, the Yankees led the American League in stolen bases.

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees' season was supposed to be all about Gary Sanchez and the youth movement. The club's strong start, however, has to be attributed to the performances of the veteran holdovers.

With Sanchez sidelined with a right biceps strain and Greg Bird mired in a slump, the Yanks were able to ride into Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals at Yankee Stadium on a six-game win streak. Familiar names have mostly been the top performers. CC Sabathia is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA. Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley were hitting over .300 entering Sunday. Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren -- the relievers charged with closing games out -- had a combined 1.25 ERA. And with five steals from Ellsbury, four from Brett Gardner and three from Headley, the Yankees led the American League in stolen bases.

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"I've said all along that I know there is a lot of focus on the young guys, but the older guys have to do their jobs because the young guys are going to have some ups and downs," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "In a sense we're running three everyday players out there who are young. We're running a little more because of Didi [Gregorius'] injury.

"The older guys have ... done a very good job."

Video: STL@NYY: Sabathia strikes out six over 7 1/3 innings

This is not to say the exciting future stars are just getting carried. Rookie right fielder Aaron Judge was leading the team in home runs and RBIs entering Sunday's game.

"What you've seen is just a good blend, a team," Headley said. "It was never going to be all about one group of players propelling this group. I like the balance we have."

Montgomery eyes first win

His big league debut now under his belt, Jordan Montgomery was looking forward to Monday when he will make his second start. The Yankees left-hander will start against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium looking for his first win.

Montgomery did not pitch poorly last Wednesday when he allowed two earned runs over 4 2/3 innings and struck out seven. Still, Girardi said that Montgomery's "fastball command needs to improve" but added, "I'm not surprised it wasn't great considering it was the first day he ever pitched in the big leagues."

"Maybe they'll be a little bit less now, but there will still be butterflies," Montgomery said. "I plan to keep the same mindset to compete. I know that I belong here and I'm going to try to stay confident."

Video: TB@NYY: Montgomery K's his first batter in the Majors

Worth noting

Girardi said shortstop Gregorius, who is yet to play this season because of a right shoulder strain, will begin playing in rehab games at some point this week.

Roger Rubin is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees