On May 23rd, Johan Santana stymied the Yankees lineup and the Bronx Bombers fell a season-worst six games behind the Rays in the AL East. On June 13th, the Yankees wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Astros and moved into a first-place tie with the Rays. Not bad for three weeks work, eh?
Sunday's 9-5 win was a fairly good example of the entire 14-5 stretch that lifted the Yankees back to their rightful place in the world. The lineup featured such notables as Chad Huffman and Ramiro Pena, Phil Hughes was shaky on the mound and none of it mattered a whit as the Yankees battered a bad team without regard to their own shortcomings.
It's becoming something of a broken record this season, but the fact that the Yankees have been so successful this season given all the things that have gone wrong remains something of a marvel. They're tied for first and for the best record in baseball and no one could argue that we've seen anything approaching the best of this team in the first two and a half months of the season.
Yet they keep winning and keep shrugging off the kinds of body blows that could sink other teams. That brings us to Joe Girardi, a manager who occasionally catches some heat in these parts for his managerial style and his consistent belief that nothing actually matters in a Yankee season until October. You've got to actually get to October for that to be true, of course, but he seems to have a greater feel for just how little the Yankees can put forth and survive than anyone else watching the team.
So we won't raise too much concern about the fact that it took exactly eight innings into Jorge Posada's return to catcher for him to become either too sore or too fatigued to finish out the game. We'll focus instead on his two grand slams -- he's the first Yankee to hit two such bombs in back-to-back games since Bill Dickey in 1937 -- and the way his bat fills in quite nicely for the one the team is missing with Alex Rodriguez on the shelf.
As for A-Rod, the diagnosis is hip flexor tendonitis and he's expected to play Tuesday night when the varsity section of the Yankee schedule resumes with a visit from the Phillies. That would be swell, of course, but we're about done wringing our hands about all the players the Yankees are missing and all the things that certain players aren't doing.
Such are the luxuries of being in first place so you might as well enjoy them.