Two and a half weeks ago, the Yankees wrapped up a series in Minneapolis and prepared to enter a soft part of the schedule. They would play 16 games, exactly three of them against a team with a winning record. It was an opportunity to make up some ground, and the Yankees took advantage.
Yesterday’s win against Houston capped a series sweep and moved the Yankees into a tie for first place in the American League East. They went 12-4 through this part of the schedule and have now won eight in a row at home.
The Yankees opened this series 4.5 games behind the Rays. They split the first two games — blowing a lead in second one– but finished 3-1 without allowing more than three runs in any of the wins. The last game was an 11-2 blowout, leaving the Yankees 11 games over .500 and 3.5 games out of first.
A lopsided three-game sweep saw the Yankees outscore the Orioles 18-5, building a five-game winning streak and pulling within two games of the Rays. When it was over, the Yankees had gone a full turn through the rotation with every starter picking up a win. They were rolling.
The Yankees had been pitching well, but Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero were better. Each went eight strong innings as the Blue Jays took Games 1 and 2 and threatened to sweep before a Yankees rally in Game 3. Salvaging that third game kept the Yankees two games behind the Rays.
The Orioles scored 13 runs in the series. The Yankees scored 12 in the first game. Baltimore rookie Jake Arrieta won the series finale, but the Yankees took two out of three and came home still two games back and 14 games over .500.
Finishing with a series sweep of the Astros, the Yankees improved to a season-high 17 games over .500. They also pulled into first place for the first time since April 22. The Yankees outscored Houston 22-11.
Associated Press photo from yesterday’s win