First Pitch: Now no Joba? No problem!

The Yankees have now played a full 1/6th of their schedule minus Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. To that All-Star lineup, now add Joba Chamberlain, who went on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with an oblique strain. And of course, there's Kevin Youkilis on the DL with a bulging disk in his lower back, and David Robertson, who is said to be day-to-day with a hamstring strain.

So many boos-boos. And so what?

The way the Yankees have played with their replacement cast so far -- their 17-10 record leaves them on pace to win 102 games -- it will be almost unfair to the rest of the league once all the regulars get back.

The team that was hoping just to tread water until everyone healed is instead swimming with the sharks. That is a truly remarkable accomplishment and a testament not only to the job being done by the replacements such as Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez, but also to manager Joe Girardi, who has somehow managed to instill a sense of confidence in his team even as pieces of it keep falling off.

Granderson is well on his way back, and so might be Teixeira, who has progressed from dry swings to hitting off a tee. A-Rod was cleared yesterday to resume baseball activities and will report to the team's complex in Tampa. Even Michael Pineda, who underwent serious shoulder surgery last March, was said to be hitting 95 on the radar gun this week.

Incredible as it may seem, only Jeter's return remains a mystery, but you know he's going to make every effort to get back as soon as possible and I seriously doubt we have seen the last of him for this season.

So with a month -- and six important players -- down, things don't seem nearly as bleak as they appeared they would be when the Yankees broke camp at the end of March. Based on what I saw in spring training, and more importantly, what and who I didn't see -- I picked them to win 88 games this season and struggle for a wild-card spot.

But with 1/6th of the season gone, it looks as if I could be wrong by as many as a dozen games. Yeah, there's still five months of season to go and a lot of baseball to be played, but so far the B-team has done more than hold down the fort.

They have taken control, and more than that, they have almost made you forget about the team of injured All-Stars who are on track to resume their old jobs over the second half of the season.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Be honest now -- did you expect these pseudo-Yankees to play nearly as well as they have? And if so, how long do think they can keep this up?

UP NOW: A day of herculean effort by Marchand. Andrew has the story of Joba's oblique injury, and the details of A-Rod's return to baseball activities. Plus ...

ON DECK: ... an interview, to be posted later, with Billy Beane in which the "Moneyball" GM talks about why Brian Cashman doesn't get enough credit, and reveals his choice for the actor to play Cashman when they get around to filming "Yankeeball." (No, its not Brad Pitt). As for today, it's the first of a three-game series with the Oakland A's, CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.35, V-lo 2-lo) facing RHP A.J. Griffin (2-2, 4.65), first pitch at 7:05 p.m. The clubhouse opens at 3:20 and we'll have lineups and pregame notes shortly thereafter. So check in often and as always, thank you for flying ESPNNewYork.com.