The Yankees left Baltimore on April 15 with a 3-6 record and plenty of questions about their pitching and lineup. They promptly swept the Rays, lost a one-run game to the Tigers on Monday and reeled off three victories in a row, including Thursday's 2-1 decision.
"I feel good about the way we played," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You go on a road trip and you go Baltimore, Tampa and Detroit and able to win seven out of 10 games, you feel pretty good. You win six of your last seven, and you feel even better."
Even more reason for optimism among the Yankees: They slowed down the Tigers, who might have been the hottest team in baseball coming into this series.
Detroit had scored 68 runs in its first 12 games, but New York's pitching staff held the Tigers to nine runs in four games as they were dealt their first series defeat of the season.
The Yankees took down the Tigers in a number of different ways, too, from Wednesday's 13-4 slugfest to Thursday's duel in which the teams combined for only six hits.
"That's what good teams do," third baseman Chase Headley said. "You've got to find a way to win."
The Yankees' defense, a question mark through the club's first few games, shined as it turned nine double plays. And their pitching rounded into form, with the starters allowing only eight runs in 27 innings and the bullpen only allowing one run in the entire series despite the frigid conditions in Detroit.
"I give our pitchers a lot of credit for fighting through the weather and keeping a really good offense down," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "We didn't score a ton of runs except for last night, but we scored enough runs to win, and that's because pitching and defense was really good this series."
The Yankees probably weren't as bad as the results indicated when they won only one of their first five games. They might not be as good as they were in Detroit, either.
But the Yankees passed one test this week. And they're ready for another one back home this weekend.
"I thought our guys played really well on this road trip. I did," Girardi said. "And it was really impressive, and it's not going to get any easier [Friday]."