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As Yankees roll, more help is on the way

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are off to one of their best starts in years despite not seeing a single at-bat from their starting shortstop, losing their starting catcher in the fifth game of the season and watching their ace post an 8.36 ERA through his first three outings.

Any one of those items concerning Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez and Masahiro Tanaka could have posed a significant problem, but instead, the Yankees entered play on Tuesday on an eight-game run that represents their longest April winning streak since 2000.

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees are off to one of their best starts in years despite not seeing a single at-bat from their starting shortstop, losing their starting catcher in the fifth game of the season and watching their ace post an 8.36 ERA through his first three outings.

Any one of those items concerning Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez and Masahiro Tanaka could have posed a significant problem, but instead, the Yankees entered play on Tuesday on an eight-game run that represents their longest April winning streak since 2000.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's not really a shock," Aaron Judge said. "We're just going out there and competing. I think that's the biggest thing. We didn't get down that Sanchez is injured, Didi is injured. We're just out there trying to compete, and when you do that, anything can happen."

With nine wins in 13 games, the Yankees have exceeded their entire total from all of April 2016 (8-14). More help is on the way, as Gregorius (right shoulder strain) will play in a Minor League rehab game on Friday for Class A Advanced Tampa and Sanchez (right biceps strain) will play catch on Wednesday.

Second baseman Starlin Castro said that winning games without those key pieces has provided a confidence boost.

"Of course. If we can do that with those guys out, I think when they come back, we're going to be even better," Castro said. "Everyone just has to continue doing what we're doing."

Video: STL@NYY: Tanaka fans five to earn win vs. Cardinals

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that much of the credit for the eight-game win streak belongs to the starting pitching. Tanaka has had issues with his mechanics, but Yankees starters have gone 6-0 with a 2.77 ERA over the eight-game run, permitting 16 earned runs in 52 innings.

"So much of it depends on your starting pitching. It really does," Girardi said. "We've pitched extremely well, and that has been the key in this eight-game winning streak. There's a lot of good players in that clubhouse, and guys that can pick up the slack and have experience."

The bats have helped, too. The Yanks hit 13 homers, posted a .372 on-base percentage and scored 49 runs over the eight-game streak.

Girardi obviously had no way of knowing this was around the corner on April 8 in Baltimore, when Sanchez walked off the field in pain and the Yanks were headed to their fourth loss in five games to open the season. It didn't look good at the time, but the Yankees still believed they could get on a roll.

Video: NYY@BAL: Sanchez exits game with right biceps strain

"Obviously, you don't want to start out that way, but I don't think there was any panic yet," Adam Warren said. "Maybe a couple more weeks and you start panicking a little bit. I think somebody said at some point, 'You can lose your season in April, but you can't win it.' You don't want to get off to an atrocious start, but I think it was so early, we were just like, 'Get us home, get us in front of our home crowd.'"

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees