There probably haven't been too many trips home more enjoyable for the Yankees than the one that took them out of Baltimore on Sunday.
They spent four days and nights battling the Orioles at Camden Yards, games that saw the Yankees run through the entire gamut of emotions and outcomes just to get themselves a series split allowing them to return to the Bronx with the same one game division lead they had when they arrived in Charm City. By the end, the stay felt just about as draining as spending four weeks in a fantasy camp designed to mimic the lives of the characters in "The Wire."
You had Thursday night's super comeback wiped out by Oriole power and you had Saturday night's blown call for the ages when first base umpire Jerry Meals called Mark Teixeira out at first on the back end of a double play even though Teixeira had been on base long enough to establish residency.
Meals and friends refused to answer questions about the call on Saturday night or Sunday, cowardice which is pretty much par for the course for a sport that refuses to acknowledge the existence of cameras that would allow them to make the right calls.
Joe Girardi got into a shouting match with Joel Sherman of the Post after the game, revealing the glass cage of emotion that life in this particular pennant race has erected around the Yankee manager. Sunday's 10-3 win was reassuring, but even that featured Freddy Garcia getting yanked early with a big lead because the Yankees simply can't trust any of their pitchers at this moment in time.
When you throw in the six games before this weekend, it's amazing that the Yankees survived 10 games in 10 days against their two closest rivals while playing poorly without surrendering either their lead or what's left of their sanity. They did drop two games off their lead over the stretch, but it felt like it was going to be much, much worse and they erased 10 games off of a schedule with the schedule running short.
That makes you breathe a little easier. The lead may only be one game, but it is still a lead and you'll always prefer defending one of those when the games dwindle down toward zero.
It helps that Alex Rodriguez has been hitting like the A-Rod of old since returning from the disabled list and the fact that someone resembling Curtis Granderson actually did something positive at the plate on Sunday. Derek Jeter's still hitting, the bullpen didn't create any disasters for the last three nights and, again, the clock continues to tick down with every passing day.
Those are good things, which are just as balanced bad things as wins were balanced with losses this weekend. Mark Teixeira might be done for the season, the starting rotation's nickname should be "Target Practice" and Nick Swisher last got a hit sometime during the first of Grover Cleveland's terms.
At least it feels that way. The Yankees remain a house in turmoil as they beat their retreat from Baltimore in hopes that the loving embrace of the Bronx can allow them to win a few games in a row and perhaps build some distance back into their lead.
Being in turmoil is a lot better than being in flames, though, and that's where this thing looked like it was headed just a few days ago. Small victory, perhaps, but a victory nonetheless.