Today's game marked the end of April games for the Yankees, and it sure felt like a topsy-turvy month. The team got off to its worst start in 24 years thanks to three consecutive series losses to a trio of division rivals in the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Orioles. Despite some writers pronouncing doom and gloom at that point, it turns out that seasons don't end after roughly 5% of the campaign! Amazing, I know.
Faced with a couple tough series against red-hot teams in the Tigers and Mets after a bounce-back sweep of the Rays at the Trop, the Yankees impressively rebounded by winning five of seven as their offense and defense began to find some consistency. Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda led the staff and the bullpen emerged as a devastating force, particularly at the end of the game with a resurgent Dellin Betances and "game enderer" Andrew Miller. For kicks, Mark Teixeira added AL Player of the Week honors with five dingers in the team's 5-2 week of April 19th through 25th. They clinched their fourth straight series win by beating the Rays yesterday to move to 13-8, their best start since 2011. Funny how these extreme "best start" and "worst start" stats can change with small sample size.
So the Yankees move on to May at 13-9, first place in the AL East by a game over Tampa. Sure, it's early, but hey, I'm not complaining about it. GM Brian Cashman didn't face too many tough decisions in the month of April, save for a last-minute spring training trade for infielder Gregorio Petit to cover the injured Brendan Ryan's bench role and some weirdness with Chasen Shreve's spot on the roster during the first couple weeks of play. A 19-inning loss to Boston exhausted the bullpen and forced Cashman to rotate non-40-man roster long relievers and send down Shreve despite his three brilliant innings of work in that game. Coming to a 2015 Yankees Sporcle quiz near you in October: Kyle Davies and Matt Tracy!
Another bump in the road was experienced quite recently, when Tanaka was sent to the DL for at least a month to recover from tendinitis and a mild forearm strain. For what it's worth, the team seemed optimistic about it. Hopefully he will make a quick comeback and Chase Whitley can capably fill in while Tanaka is out. May will certainly be a test, as after the off-day on April 30th, the Yankees play 17 days in a row, almost all on the road against division rivals again. The stretch ends with four games in Kansas City against the defending AL champions, and they will also face the Nationals, Rangers, A's, and the Royals again before the month ends. Stay healthy, guys.