Yankees are starting to make up ground in the AL East

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela
May 21, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela (29) high fives relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) after turning a triple play on a ball hit by Chicago White Sox left fielder Andrew Vaughn (not pictured) during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are getting hot at the right time. After an extended period of sloppy play that almost took them back to .500, they are streaking at the most opportunistic moment of the season and are finally starting to make up some ground in the AL East standings, where they sit in third place with a 37-33 record, 5.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees earned a hard-fought 7-5 victory against the Oakland Athletics in the second game of the series, after Gio Urshela overcame a bat splinter in his eye to knock a crucial home run.

The A’s had won seven games in a row, but the Yankees ended their streak and made sure they took their fourth victory in their last five contests.

“That was a really exciting game,” Urshela told MLB.com. “We were fighting all day long. We were losing and then we came back. It doesn’t matter if we’re winning or losing; we always stay positive, doing the right things. It’s going to help us a lot, and today we showed that.”

The Yankees dodged a bullet with Urshela’s eye

Yankees’ manager considered removing Urshela from the game after the piece of a shattered bat landed in his eye, which was later flushed.

“It was a scary moment initially, but he was OK,” Boone said. “Gio’s always been a guy that, in the biggest spots, you love him up there. You love the ball hit to him. I think he’s a really good player that’s confident in his ability. He always surprises you with how good his power is, especially to straightaway center field.”

The Yankees are playing with a chip on their shoulder, and have taken advantage of Tampa’s five-game losing streak to come closer in the standings.

“I think there’s a lot of guys playing with a chip on their shoulder,” said Clint Frazier, who hit two doubles yesterday. “I think we prevail whenever we have a little bit of pressure on us. It has not been super easy, and right now things are going good.”

“We’re getting hot at the right time,” Frazier said. “We’re a really good team, and we’ve got to perform that way.”