It was exactly one month ago, on a Monday night at Yankee Stadium, that the Yankees took their final step toward last place in the American League East. It was a 7:05 first pitch on May 21. The Yankees were facing the Royals, and when the 6-0 beating was over, the Yankees had a .500 record that left them at the bottom of the division.
In the month that followed, the Yankees went 20-6, climbing into first place with a few games of breathing room. As the team changed, so did several individuals.
Mark Teixeira finally producing
(Nick Swisher too)
On the day the Yankees fell to last place, Teixeira returned from that three-day break intended to sooth his lingering cough. He went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts that day, and his season slash line reached .227/.280/.387. In the month since, Teixeira has hit .304/.416/.620 with seven home runs, eight doubles and the same number of walks as strikeouts. Also quietly becoming a true all-around hitter is Swisher, who was all-power as of May 21 — he had a .245/.305/.475 slash line — and has since hit .296/.372/.506.
Raul Ibanez falling off
(Derek Jeter too)
For a while there, the decision to sign Ibanez looked like an overwhelming success. When the Yankees lost that game on March 21, Ibanez was hitting .263/.325/.561 with a whopping nine home runs and 27 RBI as a platoon player. Maybe it’s because of the fatigue of regularly play the field, but in the month since, Ibanez has hit .188/.230/.304 with one home run and five RBI. Jeter has also fallen off, from hitting .343 on May 21 to hitting .265 in the 26 games since.
Robinson Cano hitting for power
(Russell Martin too)
Cano has very quietly put up a season slash line that’s even more impressive than last year’s. But on May 21, he was slugging just .473 with four homers. Not exactly what the Yankees expect from an MVP candidate. In the month since, Cano’s slugged .667 with 10 home runs. It may come as a surprise, but Martin has also been hitting for power lately. He’s still not hitting for average, but he’s slugged .493 in the past month. For a bottom-of-the-order guy, that’s significant pop.
Andy Pettitte proving himself
(Cody Eppley too)
When the Yankees fell to last place, Pettitte had pitched twice. His minor numbers hadn’t been overwhelming, and he’d delivered one terrific big league start and one solid-but-not-overwhelming start. The jury was still out on his comeback, but Pettitte has since pitched to a 2.88 ERA in the past month, building big strikeout totals while consistently pitching into the seventh inning. One the very other end of the spectrum is Eppley, who was unproven because of inexperience, not because of age. The Triple-A call-up has held opponents to a .212/.278/.242 slash line the past month, proving too valuable to be optioned back to the minors.
Associated Press photo