NEW YORK -- The Yankees moved back into a tie for first place Sunday as a result of Saturday's victory over the Pirates, but manager Joe Girardi isn't ready to declare mission accomplished.
The American League East is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, and four teams went into Sunday's action within three games of first place. New York and Baltimore were deadlocked atop the division, but the Blue Jays were just a half-game back and the Yankees were set for a doubleheader on Sunday.
"Obviously, you pay attention to what the other teams are doing, but it's awful early to be thinking [about the standings]," said Girardi. "What have we played? 41 games? We only have 121 to go."
Yes, the Yankees are a quarter of the way through their schedule, and with a Sunday sweep, they can take exclusive control of first place for the first time since May 4. But Girardi expects a tight race all the way into September, and he doesn't want to celebrate a first-place berth in May.
The Yankees have managed an 11-9 record against division rivals this season, and they've logged a 10-10 record in their first 20 games at Yankee Stadium. New York is staying afloat despite a patchwork starting rotation, and Girardi was asked Sunday what his biggest impression of the season has been.
"Tommy John [surgeries] -- how many of those have there been?" Girardi said. "I think that when you think about what you see in baseball this year, there's a lot of teams right around .500. There's a lot of parity this year, and don't know if it's because of some of the injuries that are involved. There's a lot of parity involved, and that's probably the most interesting thing for me in the game today."
Ivan Nova is the only Yankee starter who has undergone Tommy John surgery this season, and he'll be out for the rest of the season. New York is also persevering through injuries to starting pitchers CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda, but both players are expected back within the next month.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.