No matter what the calendar says the Yankees are content how their month of April and first 23 games have transpired. They failed to sweep a three-game series from the Baltimore Orioles Sunday afternoon in the Bronx, losing 7-4 in 11-innings, but they move on and await the Toronto Blue Jays atop the AL East standings with Baltimore.
Remember, this was supposed to be a rebuilding period in the Bronx and it has been more than that. The Yankees played championship baseball in April and they believe this brand of winning baseball will continue. Again after that 8-14 start last April, this has to be considered more than a rebuilding stage and paves the way for optimism in the months ahead.
“I think you would sign up for that,” manager Joe Girardi said about his team and the first month that saw the Yankees get good starts from their rotation, the home run ball from an explosive lineup, and solid depth out of the bullpen. They had a four-game winning streak snapped also seeing eight straight wins against AL east opponents stopped.
But this was a game that epitomized often the baseball these Yankees displayed this month. Come from behind baseball and that never quit attitude and down to their final at bat. And the manager making moves, unorthodox of sorts, and using his bullpen and bench though his best Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman were not around to extend that end of the month winning streak.
And as Girardi said, “contributions of guys who stepped up.” That included the versatility of a bench that came up big, and the manager pointed out the play of Ronald Torreyes who stepped in while Didi Gregorius recovered from a strain to the right shoulder. Torreyes, the 24-year old Venezuelan produced a career high 13 RBI in 20 games.
“We had a darn good April,” said Brett Gardner. He ended the month 1-for-5 at the plate on Sunday and struck out twice. But some of the Yankees early success can be attributed to their outfielder who had his third multi career home run game Saturday. The Yankees’ longest tenured player is a catalyst to the lineup and there has been a vast difference from his slow start of last year.
Added Gardner about the April success, “Our pitchers have kept us in games and that makes it good for our offense. Hopefully we can keep our pitchers healthy. We have a great lineup at bat to at bat. Definitely happy with where we’re at.”
One thing is certain as Girardi said it again, there is no quit with this Yankees team. Friday night there was that epic comeback and win, this after the Yankees were down 12-4 and managed to hit five home runs. They failed to get the sweep Sunday but with two outs in ninth inning it was Gregorius and a two-run single that got the game to extra innings.
Gregorius has multiple hits in the three games since coming off the disabled list prior to Friday’s game. Aaron Judge, the new sensation failed to hit one out Sunday and in three games against Baltimore hit .556, with 3 home runs with five RBI. He is on pace to hit 40 or more home runs and finished the month with 10, tied for the most by a rookie in the month of April.
It’s been an adjustment for the rookie and at times that shows. He struck out swinging with the bases loaded in the 10th and that was a time to further make his mark on April and what has occurred. That also led to the Yankees stranding 16 runners, but overall who has a reason to complain the way this team responded in April with the best record in baseball.
The Yankees went 10-2 in the Bronx, the best home winning percentage in baseball, and in 8 of their last 12 games at home have averaged a Major League best 7-runs per game. One move that was questioned was putting reliever Bryan Mitchell in at first base as the game moved to extra innings.
It worked as Girardi had an expended bullpen and needed Mitchell to be in this one. He would later get on the mound and get the loss. It was that type of game that ended the successful month and the manager made the proper moves. Gardner said it was that type of crazy series when you go back to that comeback of Friday night.
“Start the series with Toronto and put some good weeks together,” said Girardi. The Yankees put a good month together and winning these games in April are just as important as the wins in September..