Easy April ends today. The Yanks wrapped up a very good month by beating the Blue Jays 5-4 for their fifteenth win against only nine losses – good for first place in the American League East.
The Yankees scored all five runs in the second and third innings, and then threw up donuts for the rest of the game. Apart from the explosion on Thursday, the offense has been silent in the late innings on this homestand with only one run after the fifth in all the rest of the games combined.
Burnett bent but never broke in six innings and enabled Plan A out of the bullpen – Joba to Soriano to Mo. Plan A calls for three scoreless innings, and for the first time since April 4th, they obliged. We debate the wisdom of having three strict roles in the bullpen, but this shows how rarely those roles are executed as envisioned.
The Yankees won this one with singles and walks. Their only extra base hit, a double by Teixeira, didn’t factor in the scoring. Don’t be fooled though, they ended this month averaging just under two taters in each contest and I think they’ll rely on the long ball for a long time.
Burentt was in trouble almost every inning but survived. If the rest of the season evolves such that we can re-define this as “bad AJ,” we’re going to be thrilled. Mariano threw 18 pitches and 14 strikes in a one-hit ninth. It looked to be short work, until Jose Molina refused to take a hint and dumped a double into the “gap” in centerfield. I say “gap” because Granderson was shaded so far to right, the ball went almost up the middle. No matter, the game ended a few pitches later and the tension didn’t last long enough for me to find a knife in the silverware drawer.
The team is in first place without being dominant. The Rays have fully righted themselves, and that’s without Longoria. By the end of May, I bet the Red Sox are back at or near the top as well. The good news is that the Yankees look to have another gear in them as well. Hopefully they will find it in May and keep their lead, but with easy April in the rearview mirror, the hard road’s ahead.