As the Yankees bid goodbye to the month of May, they can reflect on how right they were. New York has grown quite used to seeing a zero in the "E" column each night, tying a Major League record by completing its 17th consecutive errorless game on Sunday, this time in a 5-4 loss to Cleveland.
"That's a great team accomplishment," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. "We go out there every day trying to make every play, and that's what we've done the last 17 games. We've got to keep playing good defense, because our pitching is doing a great job as well."
The Yankees have not committed an error since Ramiro Pena booted a ground ball while playing shortstop on May 13 in Toronto. Since then, New York has handled 617 total chances in 156 1/3 innings of play, recording 469 putouts and completing 148 assists with 12 double plays. The team fielding percentage: a sparkling 1.000.
"I think it's a lot of preparation and being prepared, knowing what to look for when a guy is up and being prepared to field every ground ball or fly ball," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's just good, fundamental baseball."
The Yankees couldn't turn their errorless play into a victory on Sunday, and it wasn't exactly flawless ball -- center fielder Brett Gardner openly said that he cost the Yankees the game by misplaying an Asdrubal Cabrera fly ball in the fifth inning that led to Cleveland's fourth run, but the play went as a double.
Still, the Yankees have now tied the longest errorless streak in Major League history, a 17-game stretch by the Red Sox from June 11-30, 2006. They also have obliterated their previous franchise mark, surpassing it last Sunday against the Phillies at Yankee Stadium when they played their 11th consecutive game without a miscue.
"We're making all the plays we should make, and that's important -- especially in this league, because you don't ever want to give extra outs," Girardi said.
One big impact has been the glovework of Teixeira at first base, who has been a massive upgrade in terms of range over his predecessor, Jason Giambi.
|The Yankees have not committed an error since Ramiro Pena booted a ground ball while playing shortstop on May 13 in Toronto. Since then, New York has handled 617 total chances in 156 1/3 innings of play, recording 469 putouts and completing 148 assists with 12 double plays. The Yankees are 13-4 during the 17-game errorless streak.|
|May 14||NYY 3, TOR 2|
|May 15||NYY 5, MIN 4|
|May 16||NYY 6, MIN 4|
|May 17||NYY 3, MIN 2|
|May 18||NYY 7, MIN 6|
|May 19||NYY 9, BAL 1|
|May 20||NYY 11, BAL 4|
|May 21||NYY 7, BAL 4|
|May 22||PHI 7, NYY 3|
|May 23||NYY 5, PHI 4|
|May 24||PHI 3, NYY 2|
|May 25||NYY 11, TEX 1|
|May 26||TEX 7, NYY 3|
|May 27||NYY 9, TEX 2|
|May 29||NYY 3, CLE 1|
|May 30||NYY 10, CLE 5|
|May 31||CLE 5, NYY 4|
New York's starting infield of Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez has combined to commit only five errors this season in 863 chances. Teixeira still sports a perfect 1.000 percentage through 394 chances, Jeter and Cano have made two errors and Rodriguez one.
"We've been making some good plays, some Web gems," Teixeira said. "It's been a good season so far, but we just go out and try to make every play. That's the goal on every single ball that's been hit to us, and we've been doing it for the last couple of weeks."
Girardi said that the upgrade in defense was to be expected, considering what they saw in Spring Training. But Rodriguez returned capable from his right hip surgery, Jeter appears to have picked up a step, and Cano is back to playing as solid as he was before he tailed off in the second half last year.
The manager also lauded his starting outfield of Johnny Damon, Gardner, Melky Cabrera and Nick Swisher for getting the job done.
"I said that going in, that I thought we'd be a better defensive team with the guys we added," Girardi said. "I think Tex has made a big difference in that. I think Melky's defense has been as good as it's been at any point in his career, and Gardy and Johnny have played really good defense -- Swish as well. The other guys, we know what they're going to do, but our defense has been really good."
"We've been playing great," Swisher said. "We're giving ourselves a chance to win every day and I think that's the biggest thing."
New York had three previous 10-game errorless streaks: from Aug. 28-Sept. 6, 1977, May 1-10, 1993 and June 20-July 1, 1995.
In order, those strings came to an end when Reggie Jackson misplayed a Duane Kuiper ground ball at Cleveland; Don Mattingly allowed Milwaukee's Pat Listach to reach on an error; and Randy Velarde allowed B.J. Surhoff to score on a stolen-base attempt by Listach.
Those memories have long been pushed aside by the Yankees, who now must wonder how long their good fortune will hold out. They certainly hope for a while longer -- they are 26-8 (.764) in games when they have not committed an error and are 3-13 (.188) in games where they were charged with at least one error.
"You want to keep it going as long as you can," Girardi said. "It really starts with starting pitching the next day. As long as we get good starts, you feel like you can get on a roll."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.