BALTIMORE -- In one of their first meetings of the spring, Yankees manager Aaron Boone unveiled what he called a "bumper sticker" for his new team, telling the players that he wanted them to be "obsessed with controlling the strike zone."
Hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere worked to drive home that message in each batting cage session, believing that if the Yankees combined plate discipline with slugging potential, their offense could be even more dangerous. As May draws to a close, that mantra has paid dividends.
The Yankees, who lead the Majors in homers (87), home runs per game (1.67), RBIs (290), walks (217) and OPS (.804), entered play on Thursday having hit 29 homers in their last 11 games and are on pace to exceed the single-season record of 264 homers set by the 1997 Mariners.
"Overall, our team is just clicking," said Aaron Judge. "I think the big thing for us has been the bottom of our lineup, our rookies, [Miguel] Andujar and Gleyber [Torres], what they've done for us. When you're able to turn over the lineup like that and have guys come up in big situations and get knocks, then at the top of our lineup having really good at-bats, it's been some fun baseball."
New York entered Thursday averaging 5.64 runs per game -- also the best in the game -- while ranking second in runs (299), on-base percentage (.338), slugging percentage (.466), extra-base hits (199) and total bases (844). They are on pace to win 104 games.
"I know I see it when I look out there on the field. I see one through nine, the guys grinding out at-bats, every single pitch," Austin Romine said. "When you've got a team doing that, you're going to chip away at them. You have to have that mentality of grinding away if you're going to beat good pitching. I see it every day, guys fighting for every single pitch."
Adam Warren has rejoined the Yankees for the series in Baltimore and could be activated for Monday's doubleheader against the Tigers in Detroit, though Boone said that it's unlikely Warren would be used as a starter. Luis Severino is scheduled to pitch one of those games.
Sidelined since April 21 due to a right back strain, Warren pitched three scoreless innings of one-hit ball on Wednesday for Double-A Trenton against Reading, walking none and striking out three. He threw 41 pitches (27 for strikes) and said that his next tuneup will be to throw a light side session off the bullpen mound on Friday.
"I'd just like them to tell me I'm ready to go," Warren said. "I'm built up, so I feel like I could help out in that doubleheader."
Starter Sonny Gray and catcher Romine remained paired on Thursday, with Boone saying that he has been aiming to give Gary Sanchez two days off in a row due to recent right calf soreness. Sanchez was the Yankees' DH in Wednesday's 5-3 win over the Astros, effectively making this 1 1/2 days off.
"He's been getting treatment, but he's been catching, and catching well," Boone said. "I think he's doing well. In this stretch of games that we're in, I'm just wanting to be mindful, especially with the catching situation, that we take care of these guys as best we can."
• Sanchez, Hicks pick good time to end slumps
Sanchez has caught two of Gray's 10 starts this season, and not since an 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays on April 20. General manager Brian Cashman recently said that the Yankees had been trying to force a level of comfort between Gray and Sanchez that apparently did not exist.
This date in Yankees history
May 31, 1938: Lou Gehrig played in his 2,000th consecutive game, collecting an RBI single in a 12-5 win over the Red Sox.