Postgame Notes: No April Fools

Travis Hafner drove in three runs Tuesday -- and impressed his skipper. Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees were supposed to hang on until the big boys returned. Instead, Derek Jeter reinjured himself and Ivan Nova and Francisco Cervelli joined Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, among others, on the DL.

The end result of April was an impressive 16-10 record, which is two games worse than the first place Boston Red Sox. Still, it is plenty satisfying for the Yankees.

"We did a very good job, especially with the 1-4 start we had," manager Joe Girardi said.

There is some significance to being in first place on May 1, as Katie Sharp writes.

Since 1996, there have been 102 division champions and 53 of them were in first place on May 1. That’s only 51 percent -- barely half the teams -- which hardly guarantees a division title at the end of the season.

The Yankees are staying very close, which is about as much as they could have hoped for when they broke camp. The more you think about it, how much better would their record have been even if they had all their guys?

Travis Hafner

Travis Hafner

#33 DH
New York Yankees

2013 STATS

  • GM22
  • HR6

  • RBI17

  • R13

  • OBP.438

  • AVG.318

Not Haf bad: With three hits, Travis Hafner had three RBIs to put him in a tie with Robinson Cano for the team lead with 17. Hafner is hitting .318 on the season and has six homers. He barely trails Cano in both categories (.327 and seven homers).

Hafner has solidified the cleanup spot. Girardi loved his at-bats with runners in scoring position on Tuesday.

"They were great," Girardi said. "You didn't get the big home run from him, but you got three hits with runners in scoring position. You just see that his approach is good. He has been great in that four-hole for us with all the people we have out. He really has done a good job in our lineup."

One Mo: Shawn Kelley's job description is basically to save the rest of the bullpen. In the ninth, Kelley was called upon to protect a five-run lead and couldn't finish it out. Mariano Rivera came on for the final out to push his best-career April save total to 10.

"It happens," Girardi said. "It is the game of baseball. It is not always going to be simple when you go out there for the ninth inning, so sometimes you have to bring [Rivera] in."

The most saves Rivera has ever had in a month is 11, which he has accomplished six times.

Stand-up guy: In watching videotape with hitting coach Kevin Long, Eduardo Nunez could not believe he was standing so upright at the plate.

"That's me," he said to Long as they looked at video from this season compared to last.

So, like in the past, Nunez crouched more to utilize his legs and -- what do you know -- he had three hits, the same number he had in his previous six games. He raised his average to .203.

D-Rob's dominance: David Robertson gave up his second homer of the season. It was a long two-run shot to Chris Carter the other way that cut the lead in half in the eighth. Robertson gave up only five homers in 60⅔ innings in 2012. In 2011, Robertson allowed just one homer in 66⅔ innings. This season, it is two homers in 11⅔ innings. It doesn't mean anything yet, but the possibility of Robertson's dominance diminishing is something to watch.

Marky Pipp?: Lyle Overbay hit his fourth home run of the season, a tack-on solo shot in the ninth. Teixeira didn't hit his fourth last season until May 4. Our First Pitch at 6 a.m. on Wednesday delves deeper into this subject.

Ichiro hot: Ichiro Suzuki doesn't often hit the ball out of the infield, it seems, but he keeps getting hits. He went 3-for-5 on Tuesday. In his past seven games, he is batting .407 (11-for-27) to raise his average from .200 to .268.