Given their many injuries and some unflattering predictions for them at the start of the season, you could be forgiven for not expecting to read this sentence:

The Yankees are in first place on Memorial Day weekend.

The slew of health issues haven’t thrashed the Bombers’ season as many had predicted, thanks to a group of reclamation projects and unheralded rookies — along with one of the strongest and deepest pitching staffs in the American League — doing their part to put the Yankees atop the AL East.

Not that the Yanks think it will be easy to stay there. “It’s definitely going to be a tough race the whole way,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “I don’t see anybody separating themselves from the pack.”
The Blue Jays, who entered the season as Las Vegas’ favorite to win the World Series, are off to a dreadful start. They weren’t helped by Jose Reyes’ ankle injury, but Toronto was playing poorly before the star shortstop landed on the disabled list.

Aside from the Blue Jays, the rest of the division has been as good as advertised, as all four teams are above .500 heading into the holiday weekend, the traditional “quarter pole” of the season.

The Red Sox, who hit the Bronx next weekend, have been as surprising as the Blue Jays, only in a good way. Following last season’s 93-loss debacle, Boston was expected to join the Yankees near the bottom of the standings. Instead, the Red Sox are riding the arms of Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester and the bats of Mike Napoli and David Ortiz to become the Yankees’ biggest threats.

Buck Showalter’s Orioles, who took two of three from the Yankees this week, are proving that their playoff season a year ago was no fluke. Now the Yanks head to Tampa Bay to take on the Rays for three games this weekend, and will face Matt Moore (8-0, 2.29 ERA) and Alex Cobb (5-2, 2.73 ERA) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.