After resurgence helps club reach .500 for first time since April 14, Bombers want more
By Nick Suss
NEW YORK -- After more than a month of climbing, the Yankees have finally worked their way out of a hole and back onto flat ground.
With Tuesday night's 6-0 win over the Blue Jays, the Yankees are 22-22, .500 for the first time since April 14, when a loss to these very same Blue Jays knocked them to 4-4. Since that loss, the Yankees fell far, dropping as far as eight games below .500 on May 5. But the Yankees have turned everything around, winning 13 of their past 18 -- including six straight -- with a run differential of plus-15 over that span.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, both proud of his team's recent success and aware that Tuesday marked the first of 20 straight games without an off-day, said he hopes that this hot streak spawns another.
"It means we're playing well right now," Girardi said. "We were struggling mightily for a while there, and we seemed to find it in that stretch of 20. Hopefully it continues in this stretch of 20."
One thing that has really sparked the Yankees' climb back to .500 and third place in the American League East has been starting pitching, especially over the season-high winning streak the team is on. Since May 18, Yankees starters have a 1.76 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 47-to-9, catalyzing the team's win streak. Perhaps the hottest pitcher on the Yankees is Nathan Eovaldi, who is 5-0 over his last six starts and boasts a miniscule 2.16 ERA over his last four starts.
Eovaldi shut down the Toronto lineup on Tuesday night, striking out five and inducing nine groundouts over six-plus shutout innings. This is coming off his previous start in which he allowed just one hit and one run over six innings and set down 18 batters in a row to end his evening.
In Eovaldi's mind, he and the rest of the team's starting pitchers need to just keep doing what they're doing.
"We're doing all the things right right now," Eovaldi said. "The starters have been throwing the ball well, and hopefully we'll have another great outing tomorrow."
As well as the starters have been throwing over the past week, the most impressive facet of the way the Yankees have been winning has been what they've been able to do without their usual sources of offensive firepower. Alex Rodriguez has been on the disabled list for the entirety of this win streak, and Mark Teixeira hasn't hit a home run since the Yanks were last above .500.
The way the Bombers have given their starters run support has been through, as Girardi described it, "contributions from everyone, up and down the lineup." And while this is true, players such as Chase Headley and Aaron Hicks have certainly seen their bats wake up over this span, the offense has truly been led by Carlos Beltran, who is hitting .313 with six home runs and 19 RBIs since May 6, including a home run and two RBIs Tuesday night.
To Beltran, the success -- both personal and collective -- is encouraging, especially with Rodriguez scheduled to return soon and, in his mind, Teixeira looking like he's about to turn things around. Maybe that's just Beltran being positive. But why not? Beltran said positivity is what got the Yankees up the ladder and out of the hole in the first place.
"We played horrible the first month," Beltran said. "But something good that we did was we stuck together. We were able to fight through it as a team and turn it around. As a team, you've got to be aware that you're going to go through stretches like that where you're not going to play good baseball. But if you stick together and you believe in anyone -- that's what we've been doing."
Nick Suss is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.