On May 7, the day before Alex Rodriguez returned, the Yankees lost their fifth straight game — four against division rivals — and had done so in an eerily lifeless Yankee Stadium. Had this losing gone on much longer, the boos for Mark Teixeira would have gotten even louder, as would the calls for Joe Girardi to be fired. Notoriously impatient Yankees fans wouldn’t have waited much longer. And they didn’t have to.
Since then, the Yanks have gone nine and two, and with last night’s 9–1 win over Baltimore — CC Sabathia’s first win at home — they’ve won seven in a row. Maybe A-Rod doesn’t deserve all the credit — the improved pitching isn’t exactly his doing — but things could not have gone any better for the Yanks since he returned. Mark Teixeira is suddenly the hitter he was expected to be; in eleven games with A-Rod hitting behind him, he’s hit six home runs and raised his average 43 points. Perhaps more important, A-Rod himself won back the fans quicker than he could have hoped: He has five home runs thus far (including one on his first swing and another to win a game), and though his average is under .200, his on-base percentage is a very respectable .383.
Of course these things have a way of evening out. (The Mets, winners of seven straight just two weeks ago, are already the subject of multi-storyline, sky-is-falling back pages like this.) But in the Yankees’ case, the streak has not only allowed them to avoid Code Red Panic Mode, it’s giving them hope that, just maybe, all that money they spent in the offseason really can buy them some wins.