Would you look at that! The New York Yankees managed to play competent baseball over the last two and a half weeks and they've quickly made up 4.5 games in the division, trailing the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL East lead by 5.5 games. New York has the sixth-best record in baseball. Their 14-6 record this month is the best in MLB.
While it's been a collective effort, Yankees fans need to give credit where credit is due: manager Aaron Boone, who is often among the premier scapegoats whenever things are going bad, has the team in a league-best groove despite limited resources.
Still no Giancarlo Stanton. We've yet to see Carlos Rodón and Tommy Kahnle. Lou Trivino and Scott Effross were lost before anything even began. Frankie Montas and Jonathan Loaisiga won't be back until August.
His lineups have worked. His pitching decisions haven't been detrimental (at least for the most part, as of late). He's provided an undeniable fire for this team as he's backed his guys in the form of two ejections in less than a week -- and both times the Yanks would go on to win.
The first came in Toronto when the home plate umpire called a low strike on Aaron Judge. Boone set the record straight, got tossed, threw his gum like a maniac, and then Judge homered later in the at-bat.
Aaron Boone helping fuel Yankees' current 14-6 stretch in May
The second came on Sunday in the series finale against the Reds (a 4-1 win) in which Boone hit the showers before 12:00 ET. Has that ever happened before?
He made sure to stand strong against the bush league Blue Jays coaching staff, too. Toronto manager John Schneider and Co. were whining all week about sign-stealing (of the legal variety), base coaches' positioning, and sticky stuff. The result? The Jays distracted themselves into oblivion and lost three of four while Boone capitalized.
And the Yankees skipper made sure they were put in their place whenever they tried to escalate the tensions and get under the team's skin.
His foresight has been refreshing, too. He wasted no time pulling Ian Hamilton from Tuesday's game when there was an indication something was off with the right-hander, who later hit the IL with a groin strain.
As of Monday, his last bullpen mistake was over a week ago when he called on Albert Abreu with the bases loaded in the series finale against the Rays. There have been no glaring gaffes to set the fanbase off since. Everything's largely been quiet because Boone's careful management of the 'pen has delivered the league's best ERA (2.87), the fifth-most strikeouts (194) and the third-best average against (.220). And that's with a rotation consisting of Clarke Schmidt and Domingo Germán as well as a bullpen that's getting ample contributions from Abreu, Hamilton, Jimmy Cordero and now Ryan Weber.
When the offense is somewhat livened, Boone's job is a bit easier, and the relaxing atmosphere allows for the microscope to zoom out and the rest of us to simply enjoy the product rather than endlessly critique it. Any manager's job is exponentially difficult when runs are hard to come by, so fans need to at least appreciate Boone's button-pressing when he's being afforded advantageous opportunities.
Throw in the f-bombs and horse sh---s, and this is the side of Boone Yankees fans love to back when rivals come trash-talking. Life's better this way, so might as well be happy before we're all changing our tunes when another inevitable bad stretch keeps the Yanks from achieving their full potential. It's a long 162-game season. The highs and lows are why we're here.