Clay Hughes Yankees
Tom Horak | USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees can hopefully put the Josh Donaldson drama behind them after clinching another series win over the American League East rival Orioles.

Granted, Donaldson is on the COVID-19 list and missed the whole series, yet New York prevailed. Gerrit Cole proving human on Monday was enough for Baltimore, and the Yankees did the rest. To follow a bad loss with a comeback in extra innings and then a gritty shutout is testament to this team’s toughness.

Yet, even toughness has limits. The Yankees are suddenly dealing with a sudden storm of injuries, namely Giancarlo Stanton hitting the injured list with ankle inflammation.

Four games with the Rays at Tropicana Field await, so let’s get right to some takeaways.

Band-Aid bullpen. The Yankees bullpen now is near unrecognizable compared to Opening Day. Chad Green is out for the year with Tommy John surgery, the struggling Aroldis Chapman has a bad Achilles, and Jonathan Loaisiga just hit the injured list with shoulder trouble. With some tough games coming, Aaron Boone and Matt Blake will have to be creative.

Thankfully for the Yankees, bullpen depth has always been a strength. Ron Marinaccio pitched well Wednesday, and Miguel Castro also has high leverage experience. Clay Holmes has a 23 scoreless innings streak and is more than capable as a closer. It was only last year when New York needed Stephen Ridings and Brody Koerner to provide quality relief innings, even if for just a brief stretch, and both did. We’ll soon see if the Yankees catch bullpen lightning in a bottle again.

All aboard the Trevino Train. Jose Trevino has been running hot lately, even if he’s sharing time with Kyle Higashioka. He carried the Yankees to a clutch extra innings win on Tuesday and is just a great fit in New York, both as a player and as a person. His defense speaks for itself, so much that Cole even pitches to him.

These four games against the Rays mean a lot, particularly with Stanton’s big bat out of the lineup. That means Boone putting out the best possible lineup each contest. With Trevino hitting the way he has been, this should be an easy decision.

No more drama? There may still be lingering concern over the Donaldson debacle, but the Yankees didn’t show it. Keep in mind, Cole’s bad outing was on the back of Donaldson’s one-game suspension being announced shortly before the game. New York still showed fight, but the whole team seemed distracted.

Instead, the team fought back and pulled off two important wins. There’s now momentum as the Yankees prepare to face a Rays team that’s only four games behind them in the division. The Rays are still a good team and an intense rival, but a very different squad compared to last year.

But so are the Yankees, even as the injury bug takes her first bite of the summer. A series split would be great but knowing their attitude, particularly after what we jokingly called “The Florida Project” last year, it’ll be series win or bust.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.