Youth and unsung heroes stepping up for short-handed Yankees

Keith Allison | Flickr

Keith Allison | Flickr

After the New York Yankees completed their three-game series sweep of the San Francisco Giants, they went on to play the Arizona Diamondbacks in a quick two-game set. 

Coming into the series, many believed that this would be where Giancarlo Stanton may be able to return to the team. However, this was not the case. 

Stanton has not played in a game since March 31 when he injured his biceps. 

All seemed fine until news broke that he had to receive a cortisone injection in his left shoulder. 

This news did not bode well with the team as it continues to miss what many believed to be its starting outfield this season in Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Stanton. 

Going in to Arizona, the Yankees sat at 17-11 on the season. In this series, the Yankees’ bats were quieted by the D-backs' pitching, as they only scored three runs. 

In Game 1, Zack Greinke pitched a 7.2 inning gem, only giving up one run in the 3-1 victory over the scorching Yankees. 

In the second game, six Diamondbacks pitchers were used to hold the Yankee bats, as they squeaked out a 3-2 victory. 

This put the Yankees at a 17-13 record and at a 6-3 record during the West Coast road trip. 

With the team being so shorthanded, this was seen as a great sign. 

The lineup consisted of young players that had nothing to lose and were putting everything out on the field in order to win and the pitchers were lights out for the most part. Their success and confidence were important as they returned home for a seven-game home stretch. 

During the road trip, one of the players was acknowledged by the league for their contributions on the field. 

Luke Voit earned the American League Player of the Week award for April 28, after he put up a .433 batting average, including four home runs and 10 RBIs. 

In these seven games, the Yankees had a record of 6-1 and Voit clearly stood out as the reason why. 

Moving to their homestand, the Yankees will have a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins, then a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners. 

In the American League Central, the Twins have been a shock to many. 

They lead the division over the Cleveland Indians by three games and have a record of 21-12. 

In their early success, the Twins have received very good pitching from both their starting rotation and their bullpen, along with impressive numbers by their lineup. 

The first game of the series was a bummer for the Yankees even though they were able to win 6-3. 

At the end of the third inning, starter James Paxton was taken out with a knee injury, which led them to rely on their bullpen for the remainder of the game. 

In the six innings thrown by five different Yankee relievers, they only gave up two hits and two runs, which came off a Nelson Cruz home run. 

After the game, the Yankees put Paxton on the 10-day injured list with knee inflammation. 

The middle match was a disappointing one for the Yankees. 

Another poor start by J.A. Happ put the Yankees in a 4-0 deficit that they were not able to overcome. The bats were silenced by Jake Odorizzi, who was later named AL Player of the Week. 

This 7-3 defeat for the Yankees was their first loss to the Twins at home since June 26, 2016. 

In the rain-shortened final game of the series, the Yankees were able to take the series after another stellar performance by Domingo German. 

In the eight innings played, the Yankees won 4-1 and German went 6.2 innings with one run and seven strikeouts. 

The offense was given to by Mike Tauchman, who extended the lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning with a two-run home run. 

German may be the biggest surprise for the Yankees this season, since his opportunity came after ace Luis Severino went down with his injury in Spring Training. 

Many forget, but German was seen as a throw-in to the Yankees in their deal made with the Miami Marlins in 2015, where they traded away Martin Prado and received Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Cooper and German. 

In his fill-in role for the ace, he has definitely pitched like one. German has a 6-1 record with an ERA of 2.35 in 38.1 innings pitched. 

In those 38.1 innings, he has struck out 39 batters and has
only given up two home runs, which was his weakness last season. 

Throughout the entire American League, German ranks tied for first in wins, third in ERA, tied for third in WHIP and first in hits per nine innings. 

German, along with James Paxton, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka, have been much to blame for the great start to the season. 

The Yankees received some good news about Miguel Andújar, in that he was able to return to the Bronx for the second game of the Twins series. 

Andújar's bat is a great add to the lineup, and with the emergence of Gio Urshela, he will be used a lot in the designated hitter spot. 

To continue the success that the Yankees have seen to start the season, they will hope for their
young players to continue contributing heavily to the team and once they start getting some starters back, they will be a true force to be reckoned with.