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After slow start, Yankees bullpen is on a roll

Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws against the

Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws against the Astros during the ninth inning on Tuesday in Houston. Credit: AP / Michael Wyke

HOUSTON — A bullpen that was supposed to be one of the best in baseball, but got off to a ragged start this season, is starting to live up to the hype.

After Yankees relievers struck out 13 in eight shutout innings in Tuesday night’s 4-0 victory over the Astros, which set a franchise record for most strikeouts by relievers in a nine-inning game, it gave the pen a 21 1/3-inning scoreless streak over the last six games.

After allowing at least two earned runs in 10 of their first 18 games, the group has allowed one earned run or fewer in 11 straight games, posting a 0.74 ERA in the stretch.

Among the standouts entering Wednesday have been Chasen Shreve (0.79 ERA in 10 games), Aroldis Chapman (1.38 ERA in 13 games), Chad Green (1.93 in 12 games) and David Robertson (2.93 in 15 games). Though Dellin Betances has an unimpressive 4.50 ERA, he had not allowed an earned run in his last six outings.

“They’re all pitching really well,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We’re leaning on them more and more in big spots and I feel like overall they’re in a good place.”

The unit has done it with a few injuries.

Luis Cessa ((left oblique), part of the organization’s rotation depth, is still “a week or two away” from playing catch, Boone said.

Tommy Kahnle (right shoulder tendinitis) is playing catch and isn’t “too far off” from returning, Boone said. Adam Warren (right back strain) is “getting close to playing catch any day now,” according to Boone.

“Those guys are at least out there on the horizon working their way back,” he said.

Bird on schedule

Greg Bird, rehabbing in Tampa, remains on target to return within the 6-8 weeks originally given as his prognosis from the time he underwent ankle surgery March 27.

“Within the week [he should be] playing in games down there,” Boone said. “Greg’s doing really well.”

Ellsbury has long way to go

In other moves, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was transferred to the 60-day disabled list, which was backdated to March 26, a paper work move to get righthander David Hale on the active roster. Not that the veteran seems close to returning.

“Ells is hitting, running, could be playing in a (rehab) game within the next 10 days,” Boone said.

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