The Yankees have not committed a miscue since May 13, when Ramiro Pena misplayed a grounder hit by Toronto's Jose Bautista at Rogers Centre. New York was 16-17 after that game, in third place, 5 1/2 games behind the Jays and 4 1/2 games behind the Sox.
"I'm proud of our guys, I'm proud of what they've done and what our staff has put in," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They work hard with them all the time. Every position they work hard with them defensively, and it's paid off. The guys have to be willing to do the work and buy into it, and they've been great."
The contributions of New York's infielders have been paced by Mark Teixeira, who leads a starting quartet that has only committed five errors all season. Teixeira still sports a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage; Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano have made two errors and Alex Rodriguez one.
But Mariano Rivera even turned in a gem on the mound Monday, as Ben Francisco whacked a hard shot off his glove -- "All leather," Rivera said -- and scurried to chase the ball down for the first out of the ninth inning.
"We're playing the games, you know?" Rivera said. "When you play the games, good things happen. We're just enjoying [ourselves] and going through our business. We don't worry about errors or being aware that we haven't had an error. We're just trying to do our thing."
The highlight-reel moments are ones that will be remembered as eye-popping plays during this stretch, but the defense as a whole has been strong on everyday plays like throws to second and scoops at first base.
"There were a lot of good plays," Girardi said. "That's what we've been doing all year. The plays that we're supposed to make, we've been making. That just shows that they're ready to play every day, they're doing their work and preparation is important."
"I know everyone here works extremely hard at it," Jeter said. "We try to improve and pay a lot of attention to detail. The results have been there."
A broken record
|The Yankees have not committed an error since Ramiro Pena booted a ground ball while playing shortstop on May 13 in Toronto. Since then, New York has handled 651 total chances in 165 1/3 innings of play, recording 496 putouts and completing 162 assists with 13 double plays. The Yankees are 14-4 during the 18-game errorless streak.|
|May 14||NYY 3, TOR 2|
|May 15||NYY 5, MIN 4|
|May 16||NYY 6, MIN 4|
|May 17||NYY 3, MIN 2|
|May 18||NYY 7, MIN 6|
|May 19||NYY 9, BAL 1|
|May 20||NYY 11, BAL 4|
|May 21||NYY 7, BAL 4|
|May 22||PHI 7, NYY 3|
|May 23||NYY 5, PHI 4|
|May 24||PHI 3, NYY 2|
|May 25||NYY 11, TEX 1|
|May 26||TEX 7, NYY 3|
|May 27||NYY 9, TEX 2|
|May 29||NYY 3, CLE 1|
|May 30||NYY 10, CLE 5|
|May 31||CLE 5, NYY 4|
|June 1||NYY 5, CLE 2|
After Monday's game, though, all the Yankees wanted to talk about was Chamberlain's impressive leap. Cleveland had two runners on and nobody out in the fifth when Kelly Shoppach tried to get a bunt down.
"It was a big situation," Chamberlain recalled. "I needed to get that out, because they're a good team and they can change it with one swing."
The ball popped in the air and Chamberlain charged after it, snagging it before landing with a thud on the infield between third base and home plate. The Yankees never thought he had a chance.
"I'd be lying if I told you I did," Girardi said. "When I saw him do whatever you call he did, I didn't think he had a chance at it. I really didn't. Then it ends up in his glove. I guess that 6-3 frame turned out to be important."
"Even when he dove, I didn't think he had a shot," Phil Hughes said. "He kept gliding through the air. He was gliding for a while."
Yet the best part of the play might have been the recovery. Alertly, Chamberlain spotted Jamey Carroll too far off second base and fired a seed to the bag, completing the double play.
"I caught it, and I actually didn't know where the runner was," Chamberlain said. "I got my bearings and saw he was at second. It was a pretty big turn."
Jeter said he couldn't keep from laughing on the field, so in the dugout, Andy Pettitte had no chance. Chamberlain's rotation-mate led the guffaws, near tears.
"It looked like he was going into a swimming pool," Pettitte said.
"I looked over and he was horse-laughing," Chamberlain said. "That's the last thing I needed. I'm trying to get another out, there's two outs. I looked over and that was the first thing I saw. He's just probably mad because he's not that athletic."
The Yankees passed the previous longest errorless streak in Major League history, a 17-game stretch by the Red Sox from June 11-30, 2006. They also have obliterated their previous franchise mark, surpassing it last Sunday against the Phillies at Yankee Stadium when they played their 11th consecutive game without a miscue.
New York had three previous 10-game errorless streaks: from Aug. 28-Sept. 6, 1977, May 1-10, 1993 and June 20-July 1, 1995.
In order, those strings came to an end when Reggie Jackson misplayed a Duane Kuiper ground ball at Cleveland; Don Mattingly allowed Milwaukee's Pat Listach to reach on an error; and Randy Velarde allowed B.J. Surhoff to score on a stolen-base attempt by Listach.
Those memories have long been pushed aside by the Yankees, who now must wonder how long their good fortune will hold out. They certainly hope for a while longer -- they are 27-8 (.771) in games when they have not committed an error and are 3-13 (.188) in games where they were charged with at least one error.
"I hope it's 19. Let's make it 19 tomorrow," Girardi said. "The guys are playing great, and I'm very proud of the way they're playing. I just want us to make the plays that we should make. Don't give extra baserunners. If you do that, that's going to help our club tremendously."